How Use Neurological Understanding To Help Yourself
1. Discharge the body's threat response.
We cannot live a life free from perceived threat. Our silly caveman brain is wired to search for it, convinced this will help us live. However, we can increase our awareness of the cycle and make a point to re-engage our Parasympathetic Nervous System (our Peace Survival state). Techniques that can do this include:
- Breathing exercises
- Mindfulness practice
- Yoga practice
- Any exercise where you sweat!
These all do their part to flip the Threat Survival switch "off" by utilizing certain cues (such as deep breathing) or by metabolizing the stress hormones (through sweating).
2. Give your brain processing time.
No matter how peaceful your life, your brain has emotional material to process. You can give it the conditions it needs to process daily life by:
- Observing silent transitions (try it in the car!)
- Binaural beats or Bi-lateral music (my favorite track is here)
- Bi-lateral activity (swim, run, walk, elliptical etc)
- REM sleep (prioritize healthy sleep practices including plenty of it!)
3. Support your mental health.
If the above techniques alone are not enough (or feel too hard!) to resolve any symptoms of irritability, anxiety or depression then consider investing in a professional focus on your mental health. Consider looking for a neurologically-informed mental health practitioner who can help you clear the static and pay off that "past due" mental bill so you can enjoy life again. I recommend a licensed therapist trained in:
- Somatic Experiencing
- Other body-brain-based techniques like specific types of yoga
The bottom line is, there are many options! Our modern life is a poor fit for our ancient equipment. But that doesn't mean we are powerless. By knowing exactly what we need, we can not only live a long healthy life (thank you modern medicine) but also a vibrant, joyful and content one.
No need to choose between ancient or modern worlds, we have the benefit of both.
*bi-lateral stimulus is just a fancy term that refers to any movement, sound or sensation that alternates left/right in the body. It is a key element of how our brain processes experiences and can be found in the eye movement of REM sleep, or the alternating motion of legs while walking. Other examples include swimming, running and dancing.