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Our Brains Can Help Us Change Our Moods

A little boy from Yuksum 2I read an interesting idea about our brains and a technique to improve our moods from John B. Arden, Ph.D in his book “Rewire Your Brain.”   With so much distressing information coming at us each day and frustrations mounting as we face our challenges, I thought you would enjoy this idea.

As background, different areas of our brains record and store incoming information from our experiences.  The prefrontal cortex (PFC) at the front of our brains enables us to develop “complex cognitive, behavioral, and emotional capacities.”  The orbital frontal cortex (OFC) lies just behind our eyes and is responsible for processing emotions.  There are differences, however, in the left and right hemispheres of our brains.  The right prefrontal cortex “helps develop foresight and get the gist of what is happening in a given situation . . . helps you make plans, stay on course toward your overall goal, and understand metaphor.”  The left prefrontal cortex “helps you focus on the details of individual events.”

The orbital frontal cortex strengthens when close, trusting, and supportive relationships develop and this in turn helps us have more control over our emotions.  The right side of our brains activates the left side of our bodies and the left side activates the right side of our bodies.  The idea I am going to share with you informs us how to get out of a bad mood by using this information about how the right and left OFC can influence our moods.

Nerve pathways in our head come downward to our facial muscles and return back to the cortex.  “If you contract the muscles on the right side of your face, that activates your left hemisphere, which creates the likelihood of a positive emotional bias.  In contrast, if you contract the muscles on the left side of your face, that activates your right hemisphere, which creates the likelihood of a negative bias” (61).

Earlier this week I was in a “snit” over some petty little occurrence but was off and running with my negative emotion about it.  I then tried this technique of contracting my right facial muscles.  It seemed in no time I was feeling lighthearted and giggling.  I spent a good deal of time figuring out how to contract one side of my face.  I finally realized if I did a strong “wink” movement, I was achieving the desired contraction.  It worked!  I was over the snit and having a good day.

I now think I will be face watching when I see people upset to see if the left side of their face appears tighter than the right.  I will be interested to know if you find this technique works for you too.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN, owns Touchstone Massage Therapies and Nutrition Plus!  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.  Please visit sandpointwellnesscouncil.com to review articles by all council members.

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