Hey Happy is a fun, interactive mental health web-based app designed to improve your mood and overall well-being. Hey Happy is designed on the principle of neuroplasticity. Implementing the information, tools, and techniques – all backed by science – will give you the opportunity to change the structures in your brain to think, feel and act differently and give you the opportunity to take advocacy over your mental health.

So how does neuroplasticity works? The brain changes and develops throughout your life. You do have a lot of control over how your brain develops. Your brain is the most important and complex organ in your body. Your brain controls your speech, memory, thoughts, movement and the functioning of all your organs. Looking after your brain is vital. People tend to neglect their brains. Dr Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist and world-leader in imaging for the brain said ‘As a society, we care more about our faces, boobs and butts than we do about our brains’. You can look good on the outside, but if you don’t take care of your brain, your body will fail you.

Neuroplasticity refers to the way your brain is able to adapt and change as a result of experience. Your brain changes its structure and organization based on your experiences. Your brain works like a muscle, the more you exercise a certain muscle, the stronger that muscle will become. When you learn, you form new pathways in your brain. Each new lesson has the potential to connect new neurons and change your brain’s default mode of operation. If you do not use a specific muscle, that muscle will fade away. Consistency is key.

You have millions and millions of neurons in your brain. These neurons are information messengers that communicate through electrochemical signals. Your actions, thoughts, and feelings spike your neurons and they release neurotransmitters, resulting in communication with your brain and body through signals and hormones. Neurotransmitters affect how your body functions as they regulate your mood, heart rate, appetite, muscle movement, breathing, sleep cycles, concentration, and digestion. The five major neurotransmitters that affect your mood are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and oxytocin.

Your thoughts and actions only have power when you are consistent and over time it becomes automatic, effortless and a part of you. You literally become what you think and do. Neuroplasticity is at work throughout life. Connections within the brain are constantly becoming stronger or weaker, depending on what is being used. Since the brain is pivotal to all we think and do, we can improve everything we think and do by harnessing neuroplasticity. 

And this is where Hey Happy comes in. Hey Happy is your resource to learn more about your brain and what affects your mood. You will be challenged to think and act differently to build new neuron pathways for your brain to benefit from these changes. Small changes, repeated frequently enough, will lead to changes in how your brain works.

Hey Happy focuses on your social connections, your inner dialogue, nature, nutrition and movement to provide a holistic view of well-being. Therefore, Hey Happy will guide you with information, tools and techniques to try out. With daily or weekly interactions with the app, you will learn about the small changes you can make to change the way your brain works to improve your mood. Hey Happy is your teacher and cheerleader during this journey of self-awareness and self-exploration.

All of the information, tools, and techniques provided by Hey Happy are backed by science. While this blog is one platform to learn, the Hey Happy app also provides you with links to other resources, scientific studies, and articles to enhance your learning and curiosity.

written by Derika de Villiers, Clinical Psychologist.