The brain is complex, but that doesn’t have to mean complicated!
When we are stressed our brains primary function is to make sure we are safe…. This includes the well known ‘flight or fight’ responses. There is an area of our brain that helps us avoid harm and find safety. If we are unable to do this then we can experience fear. There is another area of our brain that is responsible for feelings and memory formation, and this area helps us feel satisfaction. A third area functions to regulate attention, feelings, imagination, language and empathy; and this allows us to find connection with the outside world and those around us.
When we are stressed or have experienced trauma it can be difficult to focus our attention on everyday tasks and therefore work efficiently, as well as connect to those people close to us. In these situations we have an immediate need to feel safe, and that means the brain areas that focus on satisfaction and connection are ‘switched off’ so that the area of the brain responsible for avoiding harm can work to keep ourselves safe. By doing this we can become hyper-vigilant and perceive that there are many threats all around us; when in fact this may not be true. By using our senses to connect to the ‘here-and-now’ we are able to re-engage the parts of the brain that help us think, connect and experience satisfaction. This helps us to become more self-aware and gain insight into the threats being from our past or potential fears in relation to our future.
Take a look at the link below…. it is a great diagram to help explain how our brains work.