How often do you run away from a Sabre-toothed Tiger?
Hopefully your answer is not too often, however the response your body feels to stress, whether it be from running late to work, managing health issues or an over flowing to-do list is the same response our bodies felt when we were cavemen. This stress response is known as Fight or Flight.
Stress today may look different to the stress of yesterday but our physical response is still the same.
When we go into Fight or Flight mode, also known as Survival Mode, our body goes into overdrive releasing neurotransmitters and hormones to help us overcome the perceived threat and putting less important bodily functions aside for the time being.
Going into Survival Mode isn’t all bad. It increases mental awareness and provides motivation. However, spending excessive time in the stress response can be harmful, leading to physiological and psychological damage including anxiety, depression, digestive issues, infertility, autoimmune disease and more, as the body suppresses the immune system and focuses on survival.
While Fight or Flight is an automatic response, if you often find yourself going into or getting stuck in Survival Mode there are ways you can develop your skills and strategies for dealing with and overcoming stress.
During our busy modern lifestyles, it’s not always possible to fight or flee. When you take challenging phone calls at work or get stuck in traffic, you may have to find a way to deal with it. For this reason it’s common for many to get stuck in the Fight or Flight response, but there is a way out.
6 ways to prevent and manage stress
1. Practice mindfulness – take 3 deep breaths or listen to a guided meditation.
Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve to relax you and help keep you cool, calm and collected.
2. Create your own cave – In our busy modern lifestyles, it’s important to create your own cave and go there when you need a break. Whether you find your cave by singing in the car, watching a documentary, creating in the kitchen or going hiking, your cave is a place to find some peace in your everyday.
3. Reduce chemical stress – avoid harmful ingredients in unhealthy foods, cosmetics, fragrances and cleaning products and make conscious choices in the products you expose you and your family to.
4. Live a healthy, relaxed and balanced lifestyle – ask yourself if you are drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, balancing work and play, positively connecting with others and practicing self-care. If not, it takes just 21 days to form a habit, why not create a new healthy habit?
5. Learn how to manage your stress – learn what your triggers are and how you can prevent unnecessary stress and healthy ways to deal with unavoidable stressful situations.
6. Ask for help – If your stress levels feel unmanageable, professional counsellors are trained in helping you recognise the root cause of your stress and supporting you in making decisions to improve your health and wellbeing.
Please take a moment now to take a deep breathe, maybe create a new cave and just relax…at least you don’t have a Sabre-toothed Tiger chasing you.
Did you find this helpful? How do you manage your stress? Do you know your triggers? What is your favourite way to relax and destress? What does you cave look like?
This post was inspired by an assignment from my second week in my meditation therapy and holistic counseling course. Although I had a basic understanding of the Fight or Flight Response before the assignment the assignment gave me the opportunity to go more in depth and explore cause and effect as well as helping others with dealing with stress. I’m loving the course so far 🙂