Just as you formed pathways in your brain to support stress you can also form pathways in your brain to support peacefulness and calm.
Just before I started working with a recent client, he shared with me how stress had begun to affect every area of his life, whereas once upon a time it only affected his work. Symptoms of stress begin often when we are young, and we were exposed to situations where we didn’t feel safe. Naturally that primal portion of our brain, the survival friend of ours we call the amygdala, then sounds the alarm for our stress response to begin.
Overtime these pathways get set up in the brain to support the stress response, and the more often we use these pathways the stronger they become. As we grow older this can turn into chronic stress and sometimes mild depression as well. However, for the purpose of this article we’ll only discuss stress. As we continue to utilize these patterns in the brain more and more, we use less and less of our frontal cortex gray matter. This is the area of our brain that is responsible for checking whether the stress response is warranted in the first place, so naturally any degradation in this area of the brain is not a good outcome.
As we reinforce this pattern of stress it begins to afflict other areas of our life as well, not only in the office but at home, and even as we are going about our daily lives on our own. Stress can be as small as being a general worrier, or having a general negative predisposition in addition to the worry and believing that only the worst case scenario will occur. All the way to the most distressing symptoms, tightness in the chest, fearful thought patterns, shortness of breath etc…whether stress is making you angry and volatile at home or work, no matter your symptoms they must be intercepted at some point.
Just as you formed pathways in your brain to support stress you can also form pathways in your brain to support peacefulness and calm. The shift is quite amazing and takes only a short eight weeks. When I started developing programs for clients to rewire their chronic stress response, I began to realize that what the mind needs is consistent exposure to the feeling of safety, the feeling of peaceful calm.
As you make these experiences very real in your imagination, as the brain cannot tell the difference, they become stronger over time and simply become your new normal. The process is powerful and yet very easy. You can start now by simply closing your eyes, taking three deep belly breaths with three extra-long exhales. Then remembering a time when you felt at peace. Focussing on that core feeling of peace, and recalling it as often as you can begin to rewire your experience, the more repetition and the stronger the experience, the faster you will see changes.