Meditation rewires the brainAndrii Lutsyk/Shutterstock
There are many compelling benefits of meditation, but research suggest that it can actually change how the brain works. “Brain mapping studies show that meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress,” Dr. Serani says. “Meditation also sharpens attention and improves cognitive functioning.” One study showed that long-term meditation can actually help preserve the brain and save it from some of the effects of aging, and another found that meditation could improve concentration and memory. Don’t miss these other 12 health benefits you’ll get from 15 minutes of meditation.
Laughter is good medicine for the brainnd3000/Shutterstock
Laughing has a positive effect on the brain’s functioning, so it is beneficial to work toward a more optimistic mindset. “There’s a long history of research showing laughter surges feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin,” Dr. Serani says. “When you laugh, brain neurochemistry sends endorphins out to decrease pain, improve resiliency, and relax muscle tone.” When we hear something funny, our brain processes the language and decides if it’s humorous. After our emotions are triggered, the motor region of the brain leads to the physical reaction of laughter. Find out why laughing at these dark jokes could mean you’re a genius.
Changes in the brain can lead to mental illnessEvgeny Hmur/Shutterstock
According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists are learning that mental illness is associated with changes in the brain’s structure, chemistry, and function—so it has a biological basis in the brain. “Stress and environment can set into motion brain changes like blood flow, neural circuitry, neurotransmitters, and other functioning” that can lead to mental illness, Dr. Serani says. A recent Stanford study found that different psychiatric disorders have the same atypical brain structure in certain areas of the brain, which could mean they all have a similar cause. Make sure you know which everyday habits increase your risk of depression.