Did you know that the Amygdala (our reptilian brain) is the part of the brain that protects us from danger? It is where our fight or flight response resides. When our brain senses danger from a threat or a trigger, the Amygdala and the rest of our brain gets filled with the stress hormone, cortisol. We go into protect mode in a nanosecond. When this happens our thinking brain is unable to function until we are able to re-engage it. When we are stressed it is difficult to think rationally, or logically, to problem solve, to be innovative or creative. We are in the midst of an Amygdala Hijack.
This flood of cortisol or Amygdala Hijack can last a long time (up to 8 hours) and if we continue to get hijacked because of recurring stressors, we are not able to fully engage our thinking brain or Prefrontal Cortex. Unless, we are aware that this is happening. With this self awareness we can begin to engage our thinking brain and minimize the hijack, by taking deep breaths, by asking ourselves questions that make us think, to focus on the reality at hand rather than the threat or trigger.
With so much stress and anxiety, fear and uncertainty around COVID-19 we can find ourselves in a constant state of an Amygdala Hijack. We can be stressed and functioning in a constant state of fight or flight. This is not going to be productive or helpful to our families, our friends, our neighbors, or the community during this challenging time.
Knowing that this happens to us, we can take steps and action to showing up better for ourselves and those around us. Are you watching the news, or your FB news feed constantly? Are you living in fear of getting the virus? Afraid you don’t have enough supplies? What kind of conversations are you having? Are you only talking about the virus and all things related to it?
Take the opportunity to disengage yourself from the Amygdala Hijack, from all things COVID-19. Remove yourself from the stressors, the chaos, the panic.
Focus on being grateful. When we express gratitude it minimizes stress and concern.
Focus on the love you have around you, those you love, those that are in your life.
Take time to laugh, enjoy one another, remember good times and make new memories.
Listen to connect with others, really understand what they’re thinking and feeling.
When we are feeling good there is another chemical that flows throughout our brain, that is Oxytocin, or the cuddle hormone. When our brain is flooded with this chemical we can connect with others, think logically, rationally, even creatively and innovatively. We are needing to find a new “normal” at least temporarily. We will be much more successful and much more fulfilled if we can do this from a place of peace, rest, ease, and kindness towards ourselves and others.
Consider the conversations you are holding. Are you talking about anything other than the virus? Are you engaging in conversations that promote curiosity, discovery, inquiry? Are you listening to connect with others, to understand what they are going through, to empathize with their situation rather than only focusing and lamenting on your own?
How are you helping others during this challenging time. Helping others can stimulate Oxytocin in your brain and you will find yourself feeling less stressed, less anxious, and less triggered. We need to support one another during this difficult time. We need to come together during this time of social distancing. It may look and sound differently than what we’re used to, but nonetheless we need to support one another, love one another during these unprecedented times. We will get through this, together! Have the courage to be kind and caring to one another! Be patient, nurturing, and loving towards yourself and one another. This too shall pass, and we will be better for it!!