The fight-or-flight-response is a heritage which is thousands of years old. Then as now, it ensures our survival in dangerous situations by preparing the body for a fight or flight. A whole lot of neurotransmitters, adrenaline amongst others, alert the body. Functions such as digestion, hunger or exhaustion are deactivated, as they are not necessary to ensure survival. After the fight or flight was successful, the body returns to its normal condition. The digestion starts to work again and the exhaustion returns so that one provides for recovery.
Back then, the danger was being attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger, for example. Today, the reaction makes sure you react fast, when your toddler has a sharp knife in his/her hand or you step on the brakes when someone is suddenly standing in front of your car.
But there are also situations that activate the fight-or-flight response even when it is not about our survival at all.
Do you know the feeling when you have got so much to do that you go straight back to bed or you wish you could? Then you know the fight-or-flight-response!
What puts me into this mode is multitasking, an unstructured day and too many appointments. When I start the day without knowing beforehand what I have to do and when, my whole day will backfire. Without planning ahead, the appointments are suddenly there and the stress begins: I haven‘t showered or had breakfast yet, I need to get my son ready and I wanted to prepare some things for my post. Chaos and unpunctuality are inevitable!
The problem in these situations is: When something hits you unprepared, your body will go into the fight-or-flight-mode. Since there is no real danger you have to cope with and you might be stressed all day, your body cannot go back to its normal condition.
This also means that your digestion will not start to work again properly and you might not be able to sleep or fall asleep, because these functions are not essential for survival.
What does it feel like when your body is alert?
The effects are probably a bit different for everyone.
For me, I have thousands of things in my head and want to cut myself into more pieces (which stresses me out even more). My breathing is shallow so that my body does not get enough oxygen, I start to sweat and forget half of the things I wanted to do.
Observe yourself in the next few days: What stresses you out and what activates the fight-or-flight-response in you? How do you feel in this mode and how do you cope with this stress?
The activators can be: A lack of plan in your everyday life, the fear of certain situations, such as conflicts with your manager or other people, tasks you hate in your job or household and pressure that others put on you.
Leave a comment here and tell me about your stressors!
To learn how to stop the fight-or-flight-response and how to let the sleeping dogs lie in the first place, read my next post in the upcoming week!
Wishing you lots of luck and contentment! ☘