Thursday, March 16, 2017

Your Brain on Certainty


I am very fond of certainty. I have written about my addiction to certainty in one of my other blogs. Certainty is about the desire to know what is happening in your environment.   It is about the patterns, the people, the activities and routines that are predictable. Certainty is a good thing, in fact, it is very important brain food.

Brains need certainty. There is a benefit to being able to have significant chunks of your life predictable and steady.  It helps you to remain calm, it frees your brain to do more challenging tasks, it promotes learning and it can help develop patterns of practice beneficial for resilience and problem solving.

That's why routines help you.  They build patterns of predictability in your daily life.  It is also why we can become "creatures of habit" wearing the same patterns of clothing, eating the same types of food, doing the same types of activities.

You can use your desire for certainty to create habits that support your wellbeing.  Creating habits, automatic responses in your life that support healthy lifestyles will help you build a better brain.

Besides routines, what can you do to create more certainty in your life?

Find What's Important to You
In what areas of your life is certainty most important to you?  What causes you the greatest anxiety when it is not certain?  Name your valued areas of certainty.  Write them down.  If you find survival needs such as, "having food on the table,: "making my rent" "making sure my partner won't leave me," on your list, you are most likely dealing with significant trauma which I will talk about more in another blog. Naming your certainties will help you see what is important to you.

Make Lists
Lists help you clarify your direction and focus your energy.  Any time you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or fearful, a list can help direct the energy, and help you move into action.  This will immediately help you calm down. The bigger your feelings, the smaller the list and the more you break down the tasks.

Eat and Sleep Consistently
This simple habit has huge impact on your brain.  Eat and sleep at consistent times.  I have worked with clients who have seen enormous gains by simply focusing on this one suggestion.  If you have had a lifetime of irregular sleeping and eating patterns, this would be the one place to start that would have the greatest impact.

Create Healthy Habits
A habit is something you do on a daily basis. It is repeated so often that it becomes unconscious.  Physical activity, prayer or meditation, gratitude lists, doing something you love like playing piano or gardening - these are great examples of healthy habits. Create one healthy habit that will bring you joy in your day.

Make A Decision
You are in the process of buying and selling a home.  You have to decide between several places with different price points and benefits.  You don't know what to do .  When you are feeling immobilized as a result of some overwhelm or uncertainty, make a decision.  The decision in this case may be to consult the realtor and two other trusted family members.  The decision may be to visit the top three places and then "go with your gut".  Or the decision may be to not make a decision and decide to get more informed about the neighbourhood you want to live in.  Making a decision will help you move towards your desired goal.

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