Fight or flight and how it works and how to counteract it?

Well that’s a title!

Your body goes into fight or flight when it is needed to run, jump into action or fight something. But in modern day life most of us are in this state each day and that keeps us in an unhealthy acid state where our cells are inflamed no matter how “healthy” we are. Things like watching mind numbing TV and violent dramtic bad news, pushing your body beyond it’s capacity, living or working in an emotional state or bad environment or dealing with less desirable people, living with child on the spectrum or with a disability, all these situations can put and keep you this state of fight or flight and beyond what is a healthy response.

How does it all work? My Mickel Therapy taught me to break down this response and by understanding it I could stop it and reverse it. I learnt that I can control my response and I can control how I react to a situation and that although my body naturally puts me in to this fight or flight state to protect me or make me respond, it does not have to live here and I can bring myself back down. To produce the fight or flight response, the hypothalamus gland activates two systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system. The sympathetic nervous system uses nerve pathways to ignite or fire on reactions in the body, and the adrenal-cortical system uses the bloodstream. The combined effects of these two systems are the fight or flight response.

When the hypothalamus tells the sympathetic nervous system to kick into gear, the overall effect is that the body speeds up, tenses up and becomes generally very alert often the body finds strength and power it did not know it had. If your baby is stuck up a tree you are going to have to take action and fast even if you cannot climb trees or are afraid of heights! The sympathetic nervous system sends out impulses to glands and muscles and tells the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) into the bloodstream. These “stress hormones” cause several changes in the body, including an increase in heart rate and blood presure. You often hear of mothers lifting cars of their trapped babies. Of course in a relaxed state this would be near impossible.

Introvert_12parasympaheticsystem_zpseb7a2579So once you have gone into a flight or fight response, how do you return to a relaxed state and return to your parasympathetic nervous system?

Well if your body has just dealt with an emergency or had to run away from danger. Naturally your body will adjust and calm it self down. But if your in fight or flight continuously through what we spoke about earlier, then this process is much harder and needs balance to force it self into a relaxed state. Which is why some people find shavasana and mediation so hard, their bodies are just not used to relaxing and need to train their brain to send chemicals to counteract this and learn how.

We know your muscle get activated and tighten– so to counteract this, sitting calmly or using shavasana or child’s pose will help to unwind the muscles. If you can have a warm bath or a hot shower this will help too. Using certain essential oils may help in this process.

We know your breath gets short and rushed and your respiratory system shuts down– so breathing deeply and slowly in for the count of 5 and out for the count of 8 will help control the breath and bring oxygen back to the muscles and relax the body and the digestion system.

We know the body goes into fear– so the moment the fear has gone you must not give momentum to the fear but to flip it to a positive vibe. How do you do this? See the positives in what just happened. Stop telling the story. Stop reliving the drama. Once it is over breath and let it go. Do not keep reliving what happened over and over as it keeps you in that place of fear and negative feelings. Instead think ‘oh gosh that could have been worst’ or ‘at least that didn’t get worst’ or ‘I can see how I can learn from this and move on to be a better vibration’ or ‘I will learn from this and not respond like that again’ What is a ‘Health Coach’ and how can they help you achieve your goals?

We know your body takes momentum from your current emotion- so do not allow others to push your buttons, control how you react to others words or actions. Remove yourself from situations and places that keep you in a negative space or in an angry, jealous, upset space. do not give momentum to the issue and keep your self at that lower vibration. To do this, balance is key! For every bad situation find a positive one. For each bad energy or negative person in your life find a positive person or situation to balance it out. For each stressful conversation walk in nature, or go to a tai-chi class or yin yoga class or meditation evening. For each physical exertion balance it with a yin movement and cleansing fuelling foods. Balancing out the impact to stress is vital as when you are in fight or flight the body shuts down and stops nutrients getting to the cells the body absorbing water and the brain getting oxygen. Which will cause fatigue on the body and the adrenal gland to crash. When you an action you are coming from a higher place and a higher vibration and far from a place of fear. How do you get more oxygen when you’re stressed? Walk, take an action, exercise gently, eat green leafy vegetables, feel and think positive thoughts, mediation, laugh and dance!

We know cortisol is released when you are in fight or flight– so to quieten your system and encourage the endorphines to take over from the cortisol and other fear induced chemicals is to calm your usual reactions to fear. The four A’s can help you do this and they are Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept. This is a good rule to live by! Remember accepting the situation you are in and to make peace and let go, does not mean you cannot change it and involve from it.

We know your digestions stops when you are in fight or flight – so look to your diet to help with this. Dietary choices or lack of nutrition can provoke and increase a sense of anxiety and worry if you’re lacking in healthy nutrients, have blood sugar swings, and if you’re fueling up on unhealthy foods most of the time. Caffeine and sugar are culprits in fueling your flight or fight responses. Decreasing anxiety through food can be achieved by increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates ie lots of fruit and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, eating smaller more frequent meals, drinking plenty of water away from food, and limiting or better still avoiding the intake of caffeine, sugar and alcohol. and not eating to late at night. Be careful to avoid food sensitivities as these can heighten your sense of anxiety and fear if you have a reaction to them. Increase your intake of foods that are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan helps boost your brain’s calm mood and relaxes you. Try such foods as bananas, organic chicken, nuts, natural peanut butter and sesame seeds. eating good healthy fats will help fuel your brain as it is made from 60% fat and needs good omega 3-6 and 9 to regenerate and be at it’s full potential. I have found many of my young ASD clients improve there anxiety and stress levels and stimming so fast upon introducing good fats to their diets. There’s a difference between choosing healthy foods to help quell stress responses and “stress or emotional eating”. If you notice that you’re turning to “comfort foods” to relieve stress, or after a tough situation, be mindful choose an action instead like walking, breathing or laughing or talking to a friend who brings your vibration up (not one who will help you stay in the lower vibration i.e. talking about the issue over and over and fishing for the drama). Blood sugar level swings will feed fear because you lack strength and energy as a result of them, causing you to feel physically weaker. As your blood sugar soars, you feel exuberant but as it crashes, your sense of fear will return and leave you feeling irritable, unresolved, and worried. Hence making it all worst. Never eat when you are stressed or upset the body will not digest the food. Once you are calm then eat mindfully. A simple guide to understanding Nutrition and the part it plays on your body, and how to heal your own body!

We know your brain goes to the primal back brain when you are in a fight or flight mode– so to move the energy back to your pre frontal cortex and not allow your body to leak energy. Plan your time and plan your strategy and do not make decisions from a place of fear, id advise you not to contact or speak to people from this negative place, as I know very well it will back fire on you. Fuel your brain with healthy good fats and water and clean air. Only make decisions when you are calm and in the right brain function. Breathe and be in the present and make choices from this place, not the fear based impulse that can cause drama and keep the issues alive.

Harnessing your energy and stopping leaks of energy will happen if you follow the rules above. I hope you find this helpful.

“Mental energy and focus is your greatest asset”

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