Studies show that the more engaged you are with your life and the world around you, the greater your sense of well-being. There is no better way to be engaged than by sitting down for an hour or two a day to explore an interesting topic. The most engaging topics are often those that delve into how emotion and memory work together to create our past, shape our present, and inform our future. Emotion and Memory are powerful influences on both our thoughts and behaviors. Learning how they interact helps us to feel better and live better. The part of the brain responsible for memory is known as the medial temporal lobe (MTL), located behind your ears. The MTL is also responsible for creating new memories and storing them as they are being formed. 

Further back in the brain, there is a region known as the amygdala which puts together emotional experiences with memories to create strong feelings that influence our behavior in a profound way. These feelings are a “snapshot” of our past experiences and they help us to come up with an appropriate response to new situations. When we are not feeling well, the MTL is often sending out signals that something is wrong and we cannot seem to get past them. 

We feel overwhelmed or stressed from what we perceive as too many emotions and physical symptoms when in reality, these emotions and physical sensations are only a small piece of the puzzle. This flood of unnecessary emotion makes it harder for us to make good decisions as well as avoiding behavior that can actually be harmful to our health.

How Emotion And Memory Can Help You Improve Your Health :

1. Be mindful about your emotions.

It is hard for people who have suffered from abuse, trauma and other sustained stress to be mindful of their emotions and those around them. Because the MTL holds all memories related to emotion, the amygdala can trigger these emotions in response to physical stimuli such as sounds, smells or tastes that our brains associate with past traumatic events. 

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is supposed to act as a moderator between the amygdala and MTL so that we don’t respond automatically with fear associated with past events. The prefrontal cortex gets its information from a part known as the hippocampus which helps us place an event in context by combining information from our memory bank with sensory input from current experiences. 

2. Learn how to deal with your emotions constructively.

Learned helplessness is a term used to describe the negative outcomes of being helpless in response to seemingly overwhelming situations. The MTL causes us to associate overwhelming experiences with past traumatic events and flood the amygdala with fear-based memories that can immobilize us from making any action or decision in response. 

3. Remove burdensome stressors from your life.

A strong belief that you cannot change the situation and a sense of helplessness are the causes of learned helplessness and help create these unnecessary feelings. 

The MTL is also responsible for creating new memories each time we go through a traumatic event. Each time we face a stressful situation, we are creating new memories in response to it. 

These memories have been stored in the hippocampus and can be triggered to cause stress in any given moment by the amygdala. The more often your amygdala is stimulated by these new memories, the more likely you will get a strong reaction to them. This can affect the way you think, feel, and act.

4. Learn how to use your emotions in a healthy way.

Emotions are a powerful force that we cannot ignore. It is important that we learn to use our emotions in our everyday lives as well as in response to traumatic events so that we don’t let them control us or push us into unhealthy behaviors. The amygdala is also responsible for creating learned responses to situations based on how they affect us at any given moment.

If we have a healthy amygdala and hippocampus, we will learn to respond appropriately to situations. However, if the hippocampus is damaged in response to a barrage of overwhelming emotions, it can cause us to take inappropriate actions due to our amygdala’s excessive fear responses.

5. Create new memories that support your health.

When you are faced with overwhelming emotions, negative thoughts, and physical sensations that feel out of control, you must find a way to calm down in order to regain control over your thoughts and actions. The first step is learning how to be mindful of the initial wave of emotion and physical sensation so that you can move forward with your daily activities rather than being paralyzed by them.


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