Last week I mentioned the amygdala and it’s role in anxiety. This week I have received a few comments so lets spend a few more minutes exploring how this incredibly important gland has such a dramatic impact on anxiety. 


The amygdala is a collection of cells at the base of the brain. There are two portions of the gland on either side of the brain (hemispheres). The amygdala records emotions and emotional responses. It is also responsible for when to hit the alert button – that is the fight, flight or freeze response. This is because the amygdala creates a bunch of associations and then knows when and how to react.


This gland remembers via emotion. All the multiple actions that happen in and around this gland regulates the formation of emotional memories. Interestingly, it also governs sex distinction (it is larger in male children, adults and rats) and even appetite conditioning.


…. but sometimes it gets switched on unecessarily. A good analogy of this is given in the Linden Method (https://www.thelindencentre.org/). Here, an anxious amygdala is described as being like an electric kettle with a broken switch. The kettle just keeps boiling and won’t switch off resulting in endless anxiety. This is an overstimulated amygdala.


How does it get overstimulated? Normally via a faulty emotional associative conditioning – put simply when you have a bunch of stuff that you can’t let go of and it gets onto a repeat loop and keeps putting stress on the amygdala. So the gland is triggering fight or flight or freeze all the time. Many, many people suffer from this complaint.


How to switch it off?


First, recognize you may have triggered your amygdala over a long period of stress or stressful thinking. This can be going through extended periods of trauma or through repetitive negative thinking and negative constructions on everyday events.

Second, take positive action. The amygdala needs to know that the “danger” is over or exaggerated so it can switch off. Meditation, a healthy wholefood diet, keeping your blood sugar stable with a healthy diet including snacks, avoiding stressful situations that you don’t need to be in, yoga, exercise, breathing techniques, listening to calming audios, spending time with reassuring people, cutting down on unnecessary activities. All these things will turn the amygdala off. Normally switching it off takes about 3 weeks and then you will still need to continue to do these helpful behavioural changes as a “maintenance” program, in case it decides to switch back on again.


On breathing techniques: I highly recommend to my clients the Wim Hof Method. (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/)