Fight, Flight, Freeze




These are words the body likes, in fact, lives by.

You are a finely tuned series of synchronistic and synergistic processes. When they are all

functioning as they should, it is like a world-class orchestra, and you are in a state of flow.

However, life is stressful, and so this flow can turn to flux, which in the short term is no big deal, but in the longer term, actually can cause you issues that affect you and your wellness.

Have you heard of flight, fight or freeze mode? 

This is your body’s innate survival mechanism trying to keep you alive. It’s what kicks in if you sense a threat. So, if there were a tiger in the room, you would either flee, fight or freeze. It happens automatically; your body senses a threat and tries to predict the outcome and respond accordingly to give you the best chance of staying alive.

You are exposed to stressors every day; you can’t avoid them, whether it’s the car in front, the slow service in the restaurant or a scary scene in a film. Stress is stress, is stress; the stress response is the same inside the body regardless of the trigger.

Think about what happens when you have a thought that worries you. You haven’t moved from your chair, yet you are now experiencing an elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and a sense of unease. Your body doesn’t know it is just a thought.

You can’t tell whether you are in imminent danger of being eaten by a tiger or whether it is a thought or construct of your imagination.

Your brain is shifting its attention super quickly to things in your internal and external environment, processing that information and responding accordingly. 

So, what if the switch gets stuck and your body responds this way to everything?

If the response gets stuck in the ‘on’ position, your body’s go-to reaction becomes flight, fight or freeze as your sympathetic nervous system is being overstimulated and is jumping into action.

In your body, it’s like you’re stepping on the accelerator and the brake at the same time; the body doesn’t know what it should be doing – it gets stuck. This also creates an emotion. When you feel an emotion, the response becomes hardwired into your brain as a point for future reference.

Imagine this response; now you have an inkling of what chronic stress and anxiety feel like. 

This can cause changes to your wellness.

Here are three things you can do to help reduce the unnecessary response:

•Breathe: Take at least three slow breaths in and out through your nose- a longer out-breath is considered very calming. It’s super simple, but it’s something we often forget.

•Tapping: Gently tap on the top of your head or collar bone to help release the feeling and repeat, “even though it feels scary (or another feeling), I accept it and release it”.

•Accept it- Know that this is normal; you will have ups and downs- it’s ok. Acknowledging the negative feeling means you can accept it and then let it go.

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