Shoes. As I’m sure my neighbours know, it’s the kids shoes that undo me. I can handle food fights at breakfast, tantrums over outfits and all the usual morning squabbles…but when I’m ready to walk out the door and no-one can find their shoes, I go crazy!
This is the stress response. It’s different for each of us depending on our lifestyle, our history, our diets and our prefrontal cortex.
Our prefrontal cortex (stay with me!) is the part of the brain responsible for stable emotions and rational thinking… And it can shrink! Chronic stress can damage enough neurons in the prefrontal cortex to reduce it’s volume… And reduce your ability to think rationally!
Lots of other things are happening at this time… The amygdala (the area of your brain responsible for your fear response) increases in size, you start to remove yourself from social settings, your diet deteriorates as your mood drops so you don’t take in the micronutrients your brain needs and you feel fatigued.
Sounds pretty dire.
Thank goodness for neuroplasticity which allows the brain to grow and reshape at any stage of life. How do we do this? With exercise, time outside, social contacts, micronutrients and cellular health. The amygdala can shrink back down to a healthy size for a reasonable fear response and the prefrontal cortex can increase in size, increasing your ability for rational thought and reinforcing that it’s okay if you can’t find the kids shoes… They own more than one pair!
Your trigger and response may be different to mine, and it might be more or less serious, and it might leave you feeling down, anxious or sad. Whatever you feel, keep in mind that your brain is plastic and you can make little changes every day that overtime result in big brain plasticity changes.
As for me… I’m going to go and look for my kids shoes.