During these unprecedented times, it is easy for our brain chemicals to become disturbed.
Lockdown has been found to impact a variety of different parts of our brain, which helps to explain why a lot of us do not feel like ourselves right now.
Luckily, there are ways that it is possible to naturally reset the chemicals of the brain. Here are a few things that are well worth trying out to get back on track.
When we are stuck at home, it can be tempting to eat too much out of sheer boredom. One of the great methods to regain control over what we eat is to experiment with fasting.
A few years ago, fasting was one of the hot diet trends but while the number of headlines around plans such as the 5-2 diet have faded, many people still swear by their success.
Research has proven that a brain chemical called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can be increased as a result of fasting.
BDNF helps with the strengthening of synapses, as well as improving connection between neurons. Studies have also shown that BDNF boosts the production of new neurons.
Fasting has also been shown to improve cognition, while those who fast might be able to stall their age-related cognitive decline as well. It has to be worth giving it a go.
Avoid addictive substances and hobbies
Research published in the UK last year showed that lockdown resulted in people drinking more. This might be an unsurprising trend, but with alcohol proven to be addictive it is one individuals should consider reversing if they wish to reset the chemicals in their brain.
Drug use and gambling has also been shown to be on the rise over the course of the last 12 months. But giving up these practices is highly recommended during these difficult times.
Some people don’t know but you can exclude yourself from online casino sites. While the majority of people who gamble never go on to develop an addiction, it is easy to see why spinning the reels on a slot game that could pay out a big jackpot can be very alluring.
Like gambling, there has been a rise in gaming addiction due to lockdown. Restricting screen time in general is widely considered to be a good idea right now, so perhaps the time spent on gaming or gambling could be used on getting stuck into a good old-fashioned book instead.
Even something as simple as crashing out on the sofa in front of a movie can be a good way to reset your brain chemicals naturally.
A few years ago, an Oxford University team found out that endorphins can be released by tuning in to sad films.
The study, which was reported in the Royal Society journal Open Science, showed watching movies can dull pain – endorphins have been described as a natural painkiller.
“Fiction is widely studied by humanities academics as it is an important feature of human society, common to all cultures”, said professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, Robin Dunbar. “Yet the reasons why fiction can be so engrossing and the functions for this have not been widely studied by psychologists or behavioural biologists”.
Firing up a tear-jerker on Netflix might therefore be a good option to reset our brains.
Do some exercise
Any lazy activity that gives you joy might help to reset brain chemicals, but a tried and tested way to do this involves a bit more effort: doing some exercise.
Fitness activities have long been shown to be one of the best ways to stave off depression, so exercise is good for our mental health, as well as our physical health.
Endorphins and other neurotransmitters are released when we exercise, which is good for the overall state of the brain.
Stress hormones have also been shown to be more balanced after exercise due to the release of chemicals such as adrenaline. Regular physical activity also provides benefits such as improving self-esteem.
When the weather is cold, wet and miserable it might not feel like the ideal conditions to exercise, but this can actually be the best opportunity to reset the chemicals of the brain.