So in my last post I spoke about Fight or Flight and how when things got tough with me and Mr Pud I decided to chose the option of Flight and move to my mum and step dads house for a few days to calm down. I’ve heard the term loads but never really looked into it before or what it actually means properly so I’ve done a bit of swatting on Google (So all this is pieced together of what I feel is understandable for one and close to home for two) and also I felt I should actually try and find out what we can do to overcome it as it can really mess with generally everything!!
What is fight or flight response?
This is the body’s response to perceived threat or danger. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, speeding the heart rate, slowing digestion, shunting blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a burst of energy and strength. Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, it’s now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, like in traffic or during a stressful day at work. When the perceived threat is gone, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response, but in our times of chronic stress, this often doesn’t happen enough, causing damage to the body. After the threat is gone, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.
When you are in a stressful or dangerous situation and experience fear and anxiety, your body goes through a number of changes:
· Your heart rate may increase.
· Your vision may narrow (sometimes called ‘tunnel vision’).
· You may notice that your muscles become tense.
· You may begin to sweat.
What do you feel in your body when you feel anxious? Usually, you may notice a rapid heartbeat, shallow, rapid breathing and tense muscles. These physical reactions are the result of the ‘fight or flight’ response system. The person's body is getting ready to do one of two things:
· Confront the threat and deal with it, or – FIGHT!
· Get as far away from the threat as quickly as possible – FLIGHT!
This fight or flight response is appropriate and can actually be life-saving when there is an actual and imminent physical threat. For example, when the driver in front of you suddenly slams on the brakes, you need to react quickly (and without a lot of thought) in order to prevent an accident.
However, some people have an early warning system that's a little too sensitive. For these people, the fight or flight responses are triggered by events that would be ignored by many others. This could be caused by a number of things…
· An inherited imbalance in brain hormones, as in anxiety and bipolar disorders
· A history of verbal or physical abuse in childhood
· Other post-traumatic stress disorders
So what can we do? How do we discharge all that energy when we realise there really is no danger? After all, the fight or flight reaction is an involuntary physical response to a situation. It might not be possible to issue a mental note to our adrenal glands to tell them to stop producing adrenalin.
· Find a place where it's quiet.
· Sit in a straight back chair with both feet on the floor or lie on the floor with a straight spine.
· Begin inhaling by expanding the abdomen (let it inflate like a balloon), then move the breath into your rib cage and, finally, all the way into your upper chest.
· Exhale by reversing this action; begin at your collarbones and exhale down through your rib cage and into your abdomen. Contract your abdominal muscles as you finish exhaling.
· You might find it helpful to lightly place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your rib cage to help direct the breath on its journey.
· Begin by practicing for one minute and then gradually lengthen the practice to five minutes.
2. DO Something Physical that has results!
Like cleaning your room. Running down to the shop on an errand. Try yoga, stretching, or other exercises. Letting your body do something that uses the "fight or flight" adrenaline energy.
3. Look at your Diet
Dietary choices can provoke and increase a sense of anxiety and worry if you're lacking in healthy nutrients, have blood sugar swings, and you're fuelling up on unhealthy foods most of the time. Caffeine and sugar are culprits in fuelling your flight or fight responses.
4. Have a relaxing Bath or Shower
Immerse yourself in hot water to relax muscular tension as soon as possible, even if this means doing it the moment you step back through the door into your home.
5. Avoid the fear generators
People who push your buttons and put you into fight and flight mode regularly should be avoided until you learn stronger coping mechanisms. For some people, this may mean avoiding them long-term. All the same, it may be unrealistic to avoid all fear generators, especially if they're your boss or a family member, so practice very non-committal responses when these people begin to create fear situations and quickly and politely remove yourself from their sphere of influence. Don't explain yourself, just simply make excuses to get going.
6. Use the 4 A’s
The four A’s are Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept. Different stressors require different responses. Using these techniques, depending on the situation, can really help you fight your fear response.
· For example, if traffic increases your fear levels because you're worried about time, accidents, and noise, you can choose to Alter or Avoid this source of stress. Find an alternate route to drive to work that decreases your chances of being involved in traffic jams. Read How to cope with rush hour for more details. Or, see if you can take public transportation or carpool to work instead, and avoid that stress altogether.
· If conflict provokes your fear response, you can Alter how you handle it or Adapt to have different expectations. Learn to reduce conflict by managing it. Instead of avoiding it, find constructive ways to cope and to assert yourself around others. Always remember that you don't have to provide explanations for excusing yourself or for standing up for yourself. You do not have to tolerate abusive people or situations.
· Some sources of stress you may just need to Accept. For example, you can’t control how other people react to stress. If a person in your workplace gets all flustered over missing a big deadline and spreads that stress around your office, you can try to soothe her, but you can’t control whether she changes her behaviour. You can look at this situation as an opportunity for you to grow as a person, instead.
So has this cleared up a few things for you because it definitely has for me! I am definitely going to try and do the pointers of helping with the fight or flight increased adrenaline.
Yorkshire Pud xx
*Info taken from numerous Google sources mixed with my own thoughts and ideas on the subject.