Excerpt of Spiral Up! Discover the Power of Simple Tools to Relieve Stress & Feel Good Now
A meticulous analysis of national health data has shown startling rises in death rates for middle-aged white Americans. Surprisingly, these deaths are not from infectious or chronic diseases, but from emotional diseases. Clearly, it is time for a focal shift related to our health; it is time for our emotional health needs to take center stage.
Luckily, there is a very specific part of our brain that controls our emotional responses. By targeting this emotional center, we can learn to improve our emotional state, decrease our stress levels, and improve our health.
The emotional center of our brain dictates how we process the experiences of daily life, and over time it develops habitual responses to stress. If the brain’s response to stress is ineffective, it can lead to stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, overeating, PTSD, sleep disturbances, digestive problems and headaches. In fact, the emotional brain in stress is the root cause of 80 percent of health problems.
Training the Emotional Brain
Discoveries in the last five years have shown that emotional circuits within the brain are highly plastic, or amenable to change; and research shows that, when we use specific emotional tools to activate and change them, we can train the brain to process stress more effectively.
Over the last 30 years, I have developed a neuroscience-based program called Emotional Brain Training (EBT) that gives us the tools to make positive changes in the emotional brain. The method is rather simple. We use tools that switch our brain out of stress and into feeling good. This intentional, proactive switching of our emotional state I call “spiraling up.”
How Do We Spiral Up?
The tools used in EBT mimic the tools that authoritative parents use to help their children bounce back from moments of stress, and turn negative moods into positive ones.
Parents with this style of parenting — high expectations and high levels of nurturing — emotionally connect with their children, read their stress level, and use the most appropriate intervention to return their child to a state of well-being.
When we use the EBT tools, we mimic this healthy parental intervention, and learn to maintain reasonable expectations, while nurturing ourselves through change. By emotionally connecting with ourselves, assessing our stress level, and using the tool that mirrors what the effective parent does, we naturally spiral up and feel better.