Thinking Brain vs Anxious Brain in Upper Arlington

Thinking Brain vs Anxious Brain in Upper Arlington

Chiropractic Upper Arlington OH Anxious Brain

The human brain is amazing.

It is one system made up of many little systems. All these "systems" work together and that is what makes our brain unique compared to other mammals. The thinking part of the brain, what us nerds call the prefrontal cortex, allows us to do many things like:

  • Balance short term rewards with long term goals.
  • Look at the future and make predictions.
  • Focus attention.
  • Organize thoughts and problem solve.
  • Form strategies and plans.
  • Inhibit inappropriate behavior.
  • Look at multiple pieces of information when facing a complex issue.
  • Foreseeing and weighing consequences of behavior.
  • Changing behavior when situations change.
  • Modulate intense emotions.
  • Control impulses and delay gratification.

When the thinking part of our brain has control its called top down control. Stressed or anxious? Visit us at our chiropractic office in Upper Arlington to learn how chiropractic care can help.

What happens to the thinking part of the brain when we get stressed?

Before we get started, what is stress?

Stress can be good, or it can be bad.

Stress in short spurts that leads to growth and a positive outcome is good.

Stress that is intense, over long periods of time, or repeated stress that we aren't able to adapt to is bad.

A longer more complicated definition of stress; "Stress may be viewed as beneficial when it is of tolerable duration and leads to growth, mastery, and increased competence or as detrimental when it is severe, prolonged, or recurrent and overwhelms or impairs psychological or physiological coping abilities."

Another part of our brain the anxiety/fear part of the brain, what us nerds call the amygdala, takes over when we are repeatedly stressed. When the anxiety/fear part of our brain has control we call it bottom up control.

What happens when the anxiety/fear part takes over short term?

  • Our memory gets worse.
  • Our self-control decreases.
  • Our ability to focus decreases.

The fear part of the brain because it is being used more often than the thinking part starts to grow stronger.

This then leads to us not being able to sleep as well, feeling more anxious and feeling in less control. We then have less ability to control our emotions and are more likely to act out.

So what happens to the thinking part of our brain as we are under stress for a long period of time? It loses some of its control and our emotions are harder to control.

Now that we know that too much stress overtime can make us more anxious and negatively affect our health, what do we do?

  • Regular physical activity. This increase the blood going to the thinking part of the brain and has been shown to improve the thinking part of our brain as well as help with memory.
  • Mindfulness activities. Meditating, taking a long walk, yoga or another activity that takes you away from your stressed thought pattern. We know that these techniques work to decrease the involvement of the anxiety/fear part of our brain.
  • Social support & Volunteering. We are meant to be social. Surrounding yourself with positive people along with volunteering has been shown to increase the blood flow to the thinking part of our brain and improve our overall health.

Thank you for reading another one of my (Dr. Jake) post. Feel free to share with someone that you think would benefit from this post and if you aren’t getting our weekly newsletters you can sign up to receive it below. If you ever want to dive deeper into the research email me at

Jacob Coffman

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By appointment only

Chiropractic Upper Arlington OH Optimize Chiropractic

Optimize Chiropractic

3070 Riverside Drive #103
Upper Arlington, OH 43221

(614) 769-7831