Do you find yourself struggling to control your emotions or responding impulsively to situations?
You might have an overactive amygdala, which is a part of your limbic system responsible for emotional responses, including fear, anger, and pleasure.
It also plays a role in regulating hunger, sex, nurturing, and competition.
Are you facing life changing decisions or situations like:
First or second job applications,
committing to a sincere relationship,
Contemplating a career change,
Becoming a mum or dad,
Glooming feelings of becoming empty nesters
In those phases, you may face an even greater challenge to control an overactive amygdala, leading to unwanted symptoms.
Factors such as
lack of self-care,
hormonal or adrenal imbalances,
Peer and family pressure to do things the ‚right‘ way
can all contribute to this condition.
To better understand the mechanisms behind your emotional patterns, it helps to know how your mind works.
According to the Triune Brain Model, there are three distinct brain systems or structures:
the primitive brain, the emotional brain, and the thinking brain.
The primitive brain, located in the brain stem, oversees basic survival functions such as
heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing to basically 'stay alive'
The emotional brain, located in the limbic system, governs
fear and stress responses, emotional memories, and your sense of smell.
It is also home to your amygdala, which keeps you safe and secure.
The thinking brain, located in the neocortex, allows for
metacognition or "thinking about thinking," enabling you to move beyond knee-jerk impulses to experience imagination, inspiration, and creativity.
Your amygdala constructs reality based on emotional patterning from the past, which colors your current perceptions and reactions. Strong emotional experiences become your body's emotional history, conditioning how you feel and react to situations now.
As a result, you may be operating like a split-screen, with your rational mind saying one thing and your feelings saying another because of stored emotional histories.
Think of your amygdala as your own built-in alarm system that sounds whenever it perceives a threat or potentially painful situation. It plays a vital role in keeping you safe and within your comfort zone.
However, excessive amygdala activity can lead to impulsive, anxious, or aggressive behavior.
It is also associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders because it causes extreme reactions to emotional events, memories, and stimuli.
Additionally, amygdala damage resulting from a traumatic brain injury or illness can impact your decision-making, leading you to take bigger risks with smaller potential gains.
If you want to prevent or manage mood swings and impulsivity caused by an overactive amygdala, here are three scientifically-proven ways to help calm it down:
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to observe them without judgment or reactivity. By doing so, you can learn to regulate your emotional responses better and decrease amygdala activity.
Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which can exacerbate an overactive amygdala. Exercise also promotes the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help you feel better and more relaxed.
Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can contribute to emotional dysregulation, increasing amygdala activity. Therefore, getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining emotional balance and reducing the risk of impulsive or emotional reactions.
By incorporating these simple lifestyle changes into your routine, you can help manage an overactive amygdala, regulate your emotions better, and improve your overall well-being.
If you want to find out even more tools, tips and techniques to regulate your nervous system and bring yourself back to balance.
Connect with me or find a coach or therapist who you can speak with in confidence.