We have had a tumultuous start to the year with threats to our health and finances, heart wrenching news stories and separation from friends and family. If you have found yourself unable to stop checking social media and the news even though things are starting to return to normal, there is a very good reason for this. Chris Cooper, a mentor of mine, recently wrote a very informative article about why we cannot shake the feeling of danger or fear even when the risk is gone. He writes about the area of our brain called the amygdala. This area processes all the incoming data to our brain and helps us make the decision whether to fight or flee from any given situation. The amygdala is hungry for drama and the more you give it the bigger and stronger it becomes. It is always looking for something to worry about. Over the past few months we have been feeding the amygdala and it has become strong and even hungrier. This my friends is why you cannot stop feeding yourself more stressful news.
Just like the muscles in our body will atrophy from neglect the amygdala is the same. On Friday last week Coach Amy talked about breathing deeply and getting enough sleep to reduce stress in her article “ Are you Effectively Dealing with Stress?”. If sleep is necessary for our body and mind to heal but our overstimulated amygdala will not allow us to drop off we have real problems. The secret to this is to find ways detrain our brain to constantly crave dramatic stimulation.
Here are a few tips that can help you starve out the amygdala:
- Spend the first and last waking hour of your day screen free.
- Do not keep adding things to your lists or your life, learn the art of saying no.
- Share your plan with someone who can help you stay accountable.
- Find something that totally consumes you but requires no decisions. This could be going for a long walk, riding your bike or gardening.
Hope this helps and be sure to share with us ways you have found to achieve peace in your day!