Our normal thinking takes place in the prefrontal cortex portion of the brain. This is where all of our rational and critical thinking takes place.
When our bodies get stressed, the prefrontal cortex slowly shuts down and the amygdala takes over. The amygdala is one of the inner-most portions of our brains and is where our evolutionary history is held. Our instinctive reactions to run away from danger are stored there. It’s our emotional center. It’s where fight or flight is triggered.
For the most part, we would like to be using the critical thinking prefrontal cortex and not the fight or flight center, if not merely for comfort purposes. (Being in fight or flight mode isn’t fun.)
The problem is that our critical thinking center is what allows us to be proactive – as we get more reactive our thinking shifts to fight or flight.
This can be a serious problem when running a startup.
If you can be disciplined about taking the periodic break and give your brain the chance to zoom out and see the big picture of how the day is going, it acts as a guard to the natural shift to the fight or flight center. If, on the other hand, you have one of those days where you’re bombarded with a string of circumstances that require you to be in a reactive state, you have almost no control over letting your amygdala take over. Stress accelerates the shift from critical thinking to fight or flight.
Be conscious of how your brain is working. Guard against stress. Be productive, but take breaks and reflect.