Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flip Your Lid

Handle stress like a dog...if you can't eat it or play with it

Then just pee on it and walk away.

I've said it many times...stress is bad for your health.  In fact, one result of stress is that it dumbs you down.  You're just not as smart when you're stressed.

Psychiatrist Dan Siegel has an easy exercise to illustrate this.  Make a fist tucking your thumb under your fingers.  This is a representation of your brain.  Your wrist is the spinal cord, the palm under your thumb is the limbic system responsible for Fight or Flight, reflexes, and all those autopilot resources we have, the thumb itself represents the part of the brain that generates emotions, and your fingers represent your frontal cortex responsible for conscious thought, reasoning and decision making.  These three areas of the brain work together.

Now, spring your hand open. Your fingers representing the thinking and reasoning part of the brain are no longer connected to the other areas.  When you're stressed out, you "flip your lid".  Signals are not getting to your frontal cortex, which can no longer send conscious information to other areas of the body to help you respond in a thoughtful and reasoning manner.

The next time you're feeling stressed, especially if the stress coincides with a time you're faced with a big decision, remember to breathe.   Inhale deeply through the nose and hold for a few seconds.  Then exhale slowly and completely through the mouth.  Repeat 3 or 4 times.  Your body slows down, you calm down, and you will make better decisions.  And you will regain all your "smarts".

This is a link to a video where Dan Siegel explains the brain represented by your fist and also the importance of mindfulness.  The Science of Mindfulness




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