When you are under ANY STRESS, your heart races, cortisol levels surge and the emotional center of the brain, the amygdala, takes control over your brain. When the amygdala is in control, it shuts down or subordinates the prefrontal cortex, which is the logic and decision-making portion of the brain.
You always want your prefrontal cortex, your logical mind, to be in control of your behavior, problem solving and decision-making. You NEVER want your amygdala solving problems or making decisions, other than life or death decisions, which is the only reason it exists.
When your amygdala is in control, you will always make poor choices, bad decisions and you will be unable to use your logic or intellect to solve pressing problems.
When you find yourself under stress and unable to think clearly, you must immediately stop what you are doing and find a quiet place where you can calm down, before tackling problems or making decisions.
It normally takes about two to three hours to calm down your Amygdala.
But there are shortcuts you can take to reduce that time:
- Exercise Aerobically for thirty minutes or more or Anaerobically for at least fifteen minutes – Exercise redirects your energy, shuts down cortisol production and calms the amygdala.
- Take a Robust, Healthy Snack Break – The process of digestion redirects how energy is used in your body. Digestion will also shut down cortisol production and replace cortisol with various hormones needed to assist in digestion. Lastly, the amygdala will be forced to hand control of your brain over to other brain regions, such as the vagus nerve, which forces a slow down in your heart rate.
- Have a Glass of Wine or a Beer – Not the ideal solution, but it does work by boosting dopamine levels and decreasing cortisol levels.
- Talk to People – Call a sympathetic or upbeat friend. A ten minute conversation with someone who is a calming influence will disrupt the production of cortisol, boosting dopamine and oxytocin levels. This will also calm down your Amygdala.
Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”