Anxious Thoughts and the Body

Anxious Thoughts and the Body

How do the brain and body relate? What can you do to become more in touch with your body?

The short but simple statement “think positive” and “don’t worry so much” can only go so far when our bodies are telling us a different story.  To truly “think positive” and “not worry so much” we need to go beyond our thoughts and go beyond the front part of our brain.  When we drop into our bodies and connect to where we are feeling our thoughts we connect to a deeper part of our brain.  The deeper part of our brain is typically where traumas are stored. This deeper part of our brain is also the place where our motivation is, learning takes place and where regulation for the body takes place.  The “thinking part” of our brain, the front part of our brain is called the neocortex.  This area is responsible for decision making and logical thought, however, is not responsible for regulation.

Picture a cheetah after his inability to catch his prey.  He does not sit behind the bush and wonder why the universe did not allow him to catch his dinner or that he feels terribly bad about himself because he did not catch his prey.  This is mainly because he does not have an advanced neocortex.  Animals can process and release trauma by using the subcortical region of the brain. Animals are often led by their instincts.  We as humans often will get caught up in our thinking brain, we tend to be analytical and sometimes overthink things.  When we think about a group of gazelles chewing in an open meadow.  The gazelle may hear a noise, twitch their ears back and forth, no longer hear a threat and go back to chewing, their bodies resume being in relaxed state.    When experience prolonged states of stress, our bodies and are mind can get stuck in overdrive. Thus, we are unable to like the gazelle go back to chewing grass and grazing in a relaxed state.  The opposite can also happen, and we can get stuck on “off” mode.  For example, we experience a traumatic event outside of our home, and after the event we never want to leave home.

The front part of your brain is called the neocortex which is highly developed in humans versus animals.  It is responsible for language, logical thought and decision making. The deeper brain is called the subcortical region of the brain in that it controls emotional processing, motivation, learning, and memory.  The deeper part of the brain is also where trauma is stored.  This area of the brain is responsible for emotional regulation and activation of the parasympathic nervous system. Your neocortex is not involved which means there are some occasions where you might not be able to think yourself out of your anxiety.  

The best way to get connected to your subcortex or deeper brain is to connect what is going on in your body.  This can be done by taking a few minutes and notice how are you breathing?  What do you feel in your body at the current moment?  What do you feel inside your body at this moment does it change?   Another way to view this connection is healing that happens on a deeper level outside of our thinking awareness.  Meaning we might not be able to put words to what we are feeling inside but can have a deep sense of clam or feel a shift happening.   In addition to mindfulness brain-body based activities finding a practitioner like a psychotherapist with a somatic approach can be helpful. Remember what is held in the brain is held in the body and what is held in the body is stored in the brain. 

If you find you are struggling with connecting to your mind and body and want some accountability around making the mind/body connection, please reach out to an IOME trained supporter. Click HERE to schedule a free phone consultation with Becky, the founder!

Please reach out to Rachel at [email protected] for further questions or feedback. 

Together we are better,



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