I do hope you are well and looking forward to the Spring like me! The weather still seems so wintry at the moment, even though there are lots of signs of Spring everywhere!

The birds are chirping away outside our house in the morning, and this reminded me today that scientists at Kings College London have revealed that listening to birdsong can boost our mental wellbeing for more than four hours!

I want to share some more information with you about boosting our serotonin levels in this newsletter, but first .....
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Curiosity is good....

If you have ever wondered why you find it easier to learn about things you are interested in rather than in less appealing things, it is because of our curiosity.

Brain scans of college students have shed light on why people learn more effectively when their curiosity is piqued than when they are bored.
Researchers found evidence that curiosity ramped up the activity of the brain chemical Dopamine, which seemed to strengthen people's memories.

Curiosity is the drive to fill the gap in our knowledge about something. During a study of students scans revealed that when they were curious, brain activity rose in the regions that transmit Dopamine signals. This neurotransmitter is linked to the brain's reward circuitry, suggesting that curiosity taps into the same neural pathways that make us yearn for chocolate, nicotine or a win at the races.
Further studies suggested that the memories of the students involved were not momentary but long lasting.

Curiosity puts our brain into a better state for learning, and the Dopamine released will help the brain soak up the information gathered.

So - keep being curious!
Being Sociable

We are probably all aware of how seeing friends and family, and having social interaction makes us feel better, but it is really a fundamental part of our wellbeing. Social skills have been central to the evolution and survival of our species. Specific areas of the brain working together made complicated relationships possible during our evolution as hunter gatherers and enabled us to function as tribe, to have enough to eat and to create families. Even today our health is dependent on our social interaction, we are not designed to be solitary. People who are depressed or anxious may not be interacting as much with others. When we are busy with work and home commitments, social activity often becomes less of a priority and this can cause problems. Your brain has neural circuits that thrive on positive social interaction. When they are not activated
your health suffers. So, having those evenings with friends, meeting for coffee and organising get-togethers are just as vital as eating well, sleeping well
and exercising. And as you know, they produces lots of serotonin!
I like this positive thinking....
The explanation of the brain...

If you have experienced Solution Focused Hypnotherapy you will know about the explanation of the brain and you will have heard it many times! This is an important part of hypnotherapy as it illustrates clearly to people how we create anxiety, depression, phobias and habits of thinking and behaviour. It is enlightening for us as once we understand what is happening in our brain, we can begin to change the way we think and the way we do things so that we can get back in control of life.
Although we hypnotherapists are certain that this explanation is crucial and valid in terms of the science behind it, one of our number, the wonderful Dr Rachel Gillibrand, did extensive research to discover the neuroscience evidence that backs up every paragraph of the explanation as it was given to us.
This has taught us even more about the brain, it reinforces all that we believe, and I want to share a few things with you...

Early learning occurs via the Amygdala (remember? in the primitive brain..). It is where we learn the difference between right and wrong. It holds historical learning and behavioural experiences which are, over time conveyed to our intellectual mind. Our Amygdala does not only hold the innate fears we are born with, but also holds our learned fears.

During REM sleep the brain prunes newly formed connections in the brain made during the day. the brain then chooses which activities or events to keep and which to throw away, thus selecting what we recall. This reduces the duplication of learning and fine tunes the material we store. REM sleep also strengthens and maintains the connections chosen allowing us to learn by "scaffolding" today's activities onto yesterday's.

People with high levels of generalised anxiety do not always respond well to typical pharmacological treatment, sometimes developing depression as a result. People who are able to activate the anterior singulate cortex (the PA of the brain...) and the amygdala and increase the production of serotonin respond better to treatment. The serotonin ameliorates the symptoms of anxiety.

More next time....
I write a blog from time to time

a thought...

" sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being"
Albert Schweitzer

Please keep in touch, and let me know how you are getting on, or if you have any questions, and do connect with me on Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Ros Knowles
Solution Focused Hypnotherapist