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ADR Tip of the Month - December 2014

December 2014 ADR Tip of the Month

This practice tip is drawn from the MSBA ADR Section's December 13, 2014 ADR CLE, "Brains on Conflict: How Stress, Emotions and Brain Science Affect our Work as Attorneys and Mediators". 

The Amygdala Hyjack and What to do for Yourself, Mediation Participants, or Clients

  • It only takes 10 seconds for your amygdala to take in visual/auditory stimuli, make a decision, activate your sympathetic nervous system and start pumping cortisol into your body -- that’s 0 to full blown fight-flight-freeze in 10 seconds.
  • It then takes 6-8 HOURS for your body to flush the cortisol after you’ve been flooded, which means you are literally ON ALERT 5 FOR 6-8 HOURS.  Your amygdala hijacked your pre-frontal cortex, and you won’t be able to think clearly or problem solve again until you get it back. 
  • Try deep breathing to calm your brain down again – the key is to breathe out for longer than you breathe in.  For example, if you breathe in to a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 6.
  • You can also try touching your fingertips to a texture – denim, a rough stone, a cabled sweater – to re-engage your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest system) to help you regain “consciousness” if you find yourself amygdala-hijacked. 

Written by Elise Chambers (Program Director, Conflict Resolution Center), presenter of December 13, 2014, MSBA ADR CLE