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Fight Flight Freeze
What is it, is it helping or hurting?
Fight/Flight/Freeze is a natural response that happens automatically when you perceive that you are in danger, the situation is stressful, you begin feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable. The evolution of this was to keep you safe from being eaten by a tiger or bear, freezing in the snow, being hit by a falling branch. While helpful in some situation in others in can get in the way.
When the brain perceives a threat or danger it goes into action immediately. Have you ever jumped out of the way of being hit by something? That is how fast your brain jumps into action, that is a result of the FFF response in your body.
Your amygdala send a message to your hypothalamus, your hypothalamus send message to your sympathetic nervous system: this activates adrenaline to get your heart beating faster, your respiratory rate increases, and glucose is released. All of this goes into your extremities getting your ready to jump and get out of there, fight for your life, or is the situation is to overwhelming your freeze. Have your ever been in a stressful situation that you can’t do anything in the moment about? And you feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest and you feel all fidgety? This is the reason behind that you body has you ready to move, even though you can’t the response doesn’t recognize that. This can make an already stressful situation worse because of the physical change in your body.
While there are so many awesome time this response kicks in and is helpful, there are also times that the brain is overacting, misperceiving, or responding out of habit or patten to a situation. Those situations the response doesn’t help, in fact it can make things worse.
3 things to do to calm your body down from the FFF response are:
Deep Breathing. Sounds easy right now, especially if you are calm, but once the system is activated knowing how to get into a space of deep breathing is important. This is the reason that practicing dynamic rhythmic breathing in times you are calm is helpful, it will make it easier to do when you are in a stressful place. Dynamic Rhythmic Breathing practice here.
Focus on connecting your feet to the ground. If possible go outside barefoot and stand on the ground. This will help you become more grounded and get your energy out of your head and connected to the present moment.
Say out loud “the way my body is responding doesn’t correlate with what I am experiencing. The truth of the current situation is ____________________ and the normal response to this situation is_____________________”. This can be exceptional helpful in circumstances that used to benefit from the FFF response. This will help in creating a new response to the new truth.