We thank Sunrise Abuse Shelter for letting us forward this interesting information to our friends and constituents.
STRESS ON YOUR BRAIN,
HOW TO COMBAT AN AMYGDALA HIJACK
So, what is an Amygdala Hijack?
It is first imperative to understand a little about two important areas of the brain related to stress; the Amygdala & the Prefrontal Cortex.
The Amygdala’s job is to analyze and detect threats for survival purposes.
The Prefrontal Cortex is referred to as the executive center of the brain i.e., intentional thinking, rational thought, planning, etc. How these parts of the brain typically function and interact under stress is fascinating and can be insightful in understanding why we or others sometimes react in ways that may seem irrational.
High Stress and Fear = Activates the Amygdala, which simultaneously impairs the Prefrontal Cortex.
The brain’s Amygdala essentially takes control focusing on survival. This is referred to as an Amygdala Hijack.
The lack of Prefrontal Cortex functioning often dramatically affects attention, behavior, and memory. No one reacts the same.
The Amygdala is a primitive part of the brain and is not nearly as evolved as other regions. Once used to detect saber tooth tigers eons ago, now in modern times, it can activate if someone rolls their eyes at us. So those are extreme circumstances but not untrue. Recognizing the difference between a real threat, a perceived threat, or a harmless insult is key. But how do we do this when the Amygdala has taken away our ability to logically think straight?
Here are some tips:
First, notice what you are experiencing throughout your body. This could be sweaty palms, tingling in the hands or feet as the body prepares to fight or flee. You may be red faced or very pale. Your eyes may be dilated. Your teeth may be clenched. There are many physiological signs, so research this to learn more. Mindfulness of your body and mind will become easier with practice. Noticing when others are in this hijacked state can also be useful as you will likely
want to steer clear of them if at all possible.
Next, try to activate the Prefrontal Cortex by taking some deep breaths, while attempting to evoke reasoning. Some people count or segregate themselves to allow time to return to a more normal state. If the threat is not real, then talk yourself through this. Reason with yourself or basically your Amygdala. For instance, “Whoa, that was scary or stressful or insulting, but I am ok and this will not matter tomorrow so just chill out and calm down. Stress is not good!”
I am by no means an expert on this subject, I just find this topic extremely interesting. I have one lots of research on this in the past and experienced many of trials and errors on overcoming my own Amygdala Hijacks.
I hope that this brief overview inspires you to acquire much more information and helps you become more mindful and patient with yourself and others as we are all going through a stressful time in our world. Be safe and be well. -SP
~Article from Sharon Perkins, Sunrise Pasco