Last Christmas Eve I found myself at a shopping centre. It was 10.00pm and I was with hundreds of others all looking tired and overwhelmed yet still wandering the stores.
On the surface I was merely picking up a few things to make the 25th extra special but what was happening in my mind was that I had succumbed to the evolutionary gift known as fear aka anxiety.
Who would have thought anxiety which makes up 75% of mental illness in the world could be triggered by such a seemingly mundane act?
Our brain’s fear circuitry is without a doubt an important gift that charges us with resources to roar, run and better survive threats to our core need for safety.
However, this same circuitry also switches on in the face of threats to our other two core needs Connection and Satisfaction. Given our lives are rife with relationship dramas as well as dissatisfaction with what we do and don’t have, we end up spending an awful lot of time in our fear brain i.e fighting, fleeing, or just plain freezing. Our poor calm brain barely gets a look in and it is this brain that we need to make good decisions, refuel, recover and rebuild our physical and mental health.
So what are some ways we can encourage our brains to stay calm?
Here’s what the team at Select Counsellors say:
- Adjust your core needs for satisfaction.
- By developing more realistic expectations around what you need to feel satisfied with yourself and your life, your needs will more likely be met.
- Connect better with others by improving your Relationship Skills
- Learn betters ways to talk to each other and practice being more empathic. When you can stand in another person’s shoes it is much harder to feel angry with them.
- Improve your brain’s resilience by gifting your brain more positive experiences.
Did you realise our brain has a natural bias to the negative. It’s preference is to Velcro negative experiences and let those positive experiences slide off like Teflon. This makes it all the more crucial to gift your brain those positive experiences.
Here are a few summarised:
- Be more aware of when you are having a positive experience. You have more than you think! It can be as simple as noticing the feel of the sunlight on your skin.
- Better still create a library of ready made positive experiences to choose from. The more novel they are the more benefit to your brain. Go to the local Christmas carols this year and sing your heart out!
- Enrich your experience by staying with it for as long as you can. Soak it up with all your five senses.
- Connect with why the experience is particularly relevant to you. Make it mean something – nice.
We hope you enjoy this gift of insight into our malfunctioning minds. May you be safe, and silly, for all the right reasons, and enjoy the connection and genuine satisfaction you deserve.