Brain Gym Exercises for Skin Picking Disorder

Tasneem Abrahams
Dec 21st, 2016

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The advance of medical research for compulsive skin picking has played a major role in the discovering of new treatment options. However these options tend to be centred around the traditional psychological therapeutic modalities. Skin picking disorder has no known definitive cause and therefore treatment, and is so unique from person to person, we should consider alternative therapies as well. One such therapy is brain gym. 

What is Brain Gym?

The term brain training or brain exercise reflects a hypothesis that cognitive abilities can be maintained or improved by exercising the brain, in analogy to the way physical fitness is improved by exercising the body. A straightforward arrangement of activities could help your brain work better, making you more keen, more astute – and significantly more confident. Brain Gym involves simple body developments which have been intended to coax the two sides of the brain to work in synchronization.

Evidently when our brains get to be distinctly adjusted, our entire bodies respond, revitalising our normal healing mechanisms, restoring wellbeing and harmony.  It can enhance your visual perception and even increment your innovativeness. It gives you a front line both in the workplace and in your own life, enhancing relational abilities, helping you settle on better choices and even giving you a boost when you're confronting dismissal or dissatisfaction. The major benefits associated with brain gym exercises are as follows:

  • It makes you smarter and sharper
  • It boosts your confidence level
  • It improves your self-esteem
  • Revitalizes your natural healing mechanisms
  • Restores health and harmony
  • Improves eye-sight
  • Increases creativity and communication skills
  • Gives you a boost when you face disappointment or rejection
  • Handling conflict            
  • Maintaining positive self-image
  • Self-empathy    
  • Expressing honestly
  • Listening empathically
  • Communicate compassionately
  • Dissolving depression

You can find out more information about Brain Gym and find instructors via their website

Top ten brain gym exercises that can help individuals with compulsive skin picking

(Adapted from

1. Cross Crawl:

Sit or stand and with your right hand elbow touch your left knee diagonally across your body. In the same way, repeat this exercise with your left hand touching your right knee. Alternate the directions as in a march-past. Ensure that you touch the knee with your elbow completely and properly. Repeat this for 2-3 minutes.

2. Think Of An X:

Close your eyes. Think of the letter X and visualize it. Notice how your eyes co-ordinate to connect right, left, upper and lower visual fields around a point of focus. Notice the X-like organization and symmetry in your body as each side of your hip co-ordinates with the shoulders.

3. Lazy Eights:

Extend your arm straight out in front of you. It should be equal to your shoulder level. With your thumb pointing toward the ceiling, slowly and smoothly trace the shape of a large figure 8. While drawing the 8, try to focus your eyes on the thumb.

4. Neck Rolls:

Drop your head forward and relax your shoulders. While breathing, close your eyes and easily roll your head from side to side. Try to make small circles while you breathe deeply. Do 4 to 5 complete side to side motions!

5. Belly Breathing:

Put your hands on the abdomen. Exhale in short little puffs through your mouth. Imagine that you are trying to keep a feather float in the air. Do this process until you feel your lungs empty. Now inhale deeply filling yourself totally like a balloon. Now slowly exhale. Repeat this 3 to 4 times

6. Brain Buttons:

There are two hollow areas under your collarbone which is about 1 inch out from the centre of your chest. Using your thumbs and fingers of one hand, rub these areas vigorously for 50 seconds while rest your other hand over your navel as you look from left to right.

7. The Energy Yawn:

As you start to yawn, using your fingertips of both the hands, press lightly the tight spots near your cheeks where cheeks cover the upper and lower molars. Make a relaxed and deep yawning sound while you gently stroke away the tension and stress. Repeat this for four or more times.

8. The Thinking Cap:

Using one hand at the top of your each ear, try to unroll the curved parts gently of the outer edges of both ears together. Continue till you reach the bottom of the ears. Repeat it 3 -4 times.

9. The Elephant:

You need to place your left ear on your left shoulder. Extend you left arm like an elephant’s trunk and draw the infinity sign in front of you, which crosses up in the middle. Make sure that your knees are relaxed. You can switch arms after 4 -5 complete signs.

10. Positive Points:

Gently touch the points above the eye halfway in between the eyebrow and the hairline using your fingertips of each hand. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly for few seconds. Now release, relax and repeat this for 3 times.

Of course Brain Gym is not some miracle cure. However it does offer some benefits that could supplement any other traditional therapy methods you may be using and could even be used as a competing response whereby you replace the skin picking with another action. 

Tasneem Abrahams

Tasneem is an Occupational Therapist, and a graduate of the TLC foundation for BFRBs professional training institute. Her experience in mental health includes working at Lentegeur Psychiatric hospital forensic unit (South Africa), Kingston Community Adult Learning Disability team (UK), Clinical Specialist for the Oasis Project Spelthorne Community Mental Health team (UK). Tasneem is a member of both the editorial team and the clinical staff on Skinpick, providing online therapy for people who suffer from excoriation (skin picking) disorder.

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