Gazelle like?

A nice idea from Prof Mark Williams in the final podcast in the excellent ‘New Psychology of Depression’ series – think like a Gazelle…

Not because they are fast and agile…

Nor because they can evade danger…

Because sometimes they can’t…

But because of what happens after they’ve been chased…

They just get straight back to grazing.

The point here, is that a Gazelle’s amygdala fires ‘flight and fight’ just like ours…

But the difference is, once they’ve done fighting or flighting, guess what…

Straight back to grazing.

And this is the big idea. Because we have fancy things like a prefrontal cortex, language and the endless voice of conscious thought in our heads, when our amygdala fires we’re off to the mental races. The metaphorical cheetah has gone but we’re worrying about what it means for our future, worrying when it might happen again, remembering how terrifying it all was, and busy hatching a plan for how we avoid cheetahs for ever more.

Unlike the gazelle who is straight back to grazing.

I tried it today.

Grumpy, hungry, feeling ‘got at’ and like my morning had been taken away from me, I leashed the dogs and went for a walk. And listening to Mark Williams, I realised all needed to do was stop thinking about it all, and get back to mentally grazing – in my case simply enjoying walking among trees and new growth in the spring sunshine.

Instead of firing red amygdala…

…I found myself enjoying a park walk filled with the colours of spring.

There’s more to life than fight and flight; but you have to stop thinking to find it.

Mile High Spirits

Open in Emergency

Glug, glug
Brain wobble

In the film ‘Flight’, soon to be disgraced alcoholic airline pilot Denzel Washington turn his back on a hotel minibar miniature. And then bang he’s done. Watch it.

He necks the lot, owns up to being a drunk at an accident investigation and goes direct to jail. Helluva moment in a powerful film. Ironic then that I tapped out the poem above on a flight home from Belfast whilst necking my own spirit miniature – a stiff airline G&T.

There is something in the tinkle, the ice cool fizz and the spirit hit which is more intoxicating combined than just the intoxication alone.

Dangerous things white spirits. I reckon they need to be carefully measured and properly rationed or they’ll getcha… just like Denzel Washington’s pilot.