This is the part of the brain that triggers the ‘fight or flight’ stress response, creating a cocktail of hormones designed to help us escape from a grizzly bear. Cortisol and adrenaline give us the strength, speed and agility to get to safety.
We’re not escaping from bears much these days, but many of us are living in a near constant state of stress. External pressures provoke the stress response and flood us with the same hormones that help us escape from physical danger. We can easily turn on the stress response by our thoughts alone. If you’ve ever woken up at 4am filled with fear and worry you’ll know what that’s like. We can terrify ourselves when we’re safe and warm in bed.
Two interesting things happen when we’re in the stress response state:
When we’re in physical danger, we need to act quickly to survive. But when we’re dealing with a difficult situation for example, our stress response forces us to act quickly. It distorts our sense of time, which we interpret as pressure, adding more stress. It’s an unhelpful loop that makes the situation worse.
And as our focus narrows, it naturally means we are less creative. It’s not a time for blue-sky thinking. There are fewer possibilities, less options open to us. We act in haste with a limited capacity to think. We’re in survival mode.
What to do when you’re in it
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