In stressful times, this surprising lesson from neuroscience may help to lessen your anxieties.
The scientific name for body budgeting is allostasis.
This budgetary account of how the brain works may seem plausible when it comes to your bodily functions. It may seem less natural to view your mental life as a series of deposits and withdrawals. But your own experience is rarely a guide to your brain’s inner workings. Every thought you have, every feeling of happiness or anger or awe you experience, every kindness you extend and every insult you bear or sling is part of your brain’s calculations as it anticipates and budgets your metabolic needs.
In body-budgeting terms, however, this distinction between mental and physical is not meaningful. Anxiety does not cause stomach aches; rather, feelings of anxiety and stomach aches are both ways that human brains make sense of physical discomfort.