Many studies link malfunction or overstimulation of the amygdala to anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorders.
Amygdala is the primary structure of the brain responsible for the fight or fight response. It is triggered when we experience increased stress, fear or danger.
The feeling of anxiety starts with a perceived threat. It can be trigged by smell, sound, sight, or even a gut feeling. Our amygdala, in an attempt to protect us, immediately interferes by turning on our fight or flight (and sometimes freeze) response. This response releases adrenaline from our adrenal gland leading to raised blood sugar levels and increased heart beats.
Here are 4 proven strategies to calm down the amygdala and interfere with this fight and flight response:
Long known for its beneficial reward, gratitude is a virtue praised by all major world religions. Adopting a feeling of gratitude that is deeply rooted in our hearts is a major component of the health formula.
Every day upon waking up, grab your journal and write down 3 things that you are grateful for in your life. And, upon retiring at night, grab your journal again and record 3 things that happened today that you are grateful for.
When we are hurt, insulted or oppressed, we have two options to deal with our feelings: either to forgive and let go or to hate, harbour grudges and live to seek revenge. Both choices are hard, but their results are completely opposite. Hatred, bitterness and hostility intoxicate your body and trigger the amygdala fight or flight response.
On the other hand, forgiveness transcends the soul and frees you from any destructive negative energy. Forgiveness heals you not only emotionally but also physically and mentally.
Meeting each day with a fresh new eye, with excitement, open mind and pure heart is another calming recipe for our amygdala. This inquisitive desire to learn, this genuine interest in life and this continuous quest for knowledge are qualities that we can develop each and every day of our life. Curiosity is also a remedy for the fear of ambiguity, for the continuous living in this grey zone where we are not and cannot be in control all the time… Curiosity is seeing this grey zone as an exciting range of possibilities rather that torturing wait-and-see time of our life.
Humor is the tendency to provide amusement and add a touch of aliveness to everyday life. Taking life lightly and having a laugh at our challenges or misfortunes are proven ways to calm down the fight and flight response. Even just watching funny movies or reading comics for half an hour every day helps… it truly makes a difference. Try it. Have some fun.