There have been some pretty scary statistics thrown around recently about the effects lockdown has had on the mental health status of Victorians. For many the concept of mental health issues is foreign and distant. Unfortunately, the number of Melbournian’s is growing daily. To understand mental health we need to understand the human brain.
Over millions of years of evolution, our brains have developed through specific stages often referred to as REPTILLIAN, MAMMILIAN and NEOCORTEX (new). Each of these stages has seen a specific additional development.
The result of this is our reptilian brain is highly reactive design for survival. It’s your flight or fight and rest and recovery centres.
The mammalian brain is responsible for our emotional response to life. It’s what makes us love, cry and get angry.
Keeping a lid on all that survival and emotion is our frontal cortex. It spends the majority of the day controlling the reactions of other areas of the brain and supressing our inner survival and emotional responses.
Professor of Psychiatry Dan Siegal has a great explanation of the importance of this. When our brains get tired, our hormones change or our survival or mammalian centres go into overdrive, it can cause us to lose control of this mechanism. You’ve probably heard Dan’s terminology previously. He calls this “Flipping You Lid”.
There are many ways we can help to control this process. I’ve put my top 5 mechanisms of controlling your lid below:
- Change your environment – It sounds simple, but simply changing your environment can have profound affect on brain stimulation and revitalize the lid
- Stimulate serotonin – There are so many ways to do this. Go enjoy nature, spend time under blue skies, burn vanilla, spend time with friends, do some exercise, listen to inspiring music
- Get some sleep – Sleep deprivation has a huge influence on cortical function.
- Reduce Carbohydrate intake – Increase the percentage of fat in your diet and reducing the carbohydrate can help reduce insulin resistance. In doing so, the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin can improves increasing the availability of this amazing neuromodulator. Likewise, insulin resistance can potentially alter energy metabolism within the cortex creating fatigue stopping the lid from sticking
- Have an open conversation – Talking can help rationalize your situation, helping the cortex control your emotional centres.
As a male, I’m well aware of the struggles most men have with sharing the personal experience and emotions. Men generally communicate to share facts and figures, nothing more or less. So, unless emotion has purpose, most men struggle with how to communicate what they are feeling.
To try and help, I recently opened up to an amazing group with my history and the challenges I’ve faced that have allowed me to become who I am today. It was a completely raw interview with no topics off limits. If you want to know what makes me tick, what drives me to help and serve and the struggles I’ve faced in my life to get to where I am today, check it out. Just click my image below:
…and if you need any help, please just send me a message and reach out.