Doom-scrolling, stress-eating, and brain-farting become default responses when the path to calm is tripped up as life happens. Nothing has happened, but fear grips the mind. Good article by Sophie Brickman on recognizing the brain’s hijacking of human rationality. Things are never as bad as they seem as I log this self-reminder.
“You are losing the very circuits that enable you to self-regulate, to be rational,” Arnsten told me, “and in a small-grained way not to be irritable, which is really important for family health.” Can we get those circuits back? Research suggests yes, if we spend time in calm environments in which we feel in control.
There are active ways to combat our new reality, many of which we know but don’t pursue: exercise can strengthen the prefrontal cortex, deep breathing can calm one’s arousal systems. Seeking out joy and humor, in the forms of books or music, can help. Another simple suggestion: “Do something that helps you feel more efficacious,” Arnsten said, “even if it’s very small. Often times, helping someone else can help jumpstart that.”