We've all heard the story of the "fight or flight" response - the way our bodies react to stressors like danger by releasing hormones that prepare us to either fight or run away. But what happens when there are no more tigers chasing us? Why do we still find ourselves getting dysregulated in the face of modern stressors like work pressure, relationship conflicts, or disturbing news?
The answer lies in the way our brains are wired. The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain, is responsible for the stress response. It doesn't really know the difference between types of stressors. Whether it's a tiger chasing us, a spat with a loved one, or a deadline at work, the amygdala reacts the same way - by releasing hormones that prepare us to react.
But here's the thing - we don't have to be ruled by our amygdala. Knowing that it happens, knowing why it is happening, and knowing how to deal with it are all powerful tools in coping with modern life. Here are some tips to help you regain control when you find yourself getting dysregulated:
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you become more aware of the stress response happening in your body, allowing you to respond more effectively.
Decide in advance what action you will take if you find yourself in a dysregulated state.
Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism. Remember that everyone experiences dysregulation and it is a normal part of life.
By understanding the way your brain is wired, and the role of the amygdala in the stress response, you can take steps to regain control and manage dysregulation. By practicing mindfulness, deciding your action plan, and being self-compassionate, you can learn to cope with the stressors of modern life and find peace in the face of adversity. Remember, you are not alone in this and it is important to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.
One action that is available to you right now if you need help is a HOLD Listener.