Fight Flight Freeze Response: Anxiety Skills #1

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Have you ever wondered why do my hands
get all cold and sweaty when I’m nervous? or “Why does my stomach get all tight
when I’m talking to my boss?” Well today we’re going to talk about our body and
brain’s natural reaction to danger- it’s called the “Fight Flight or Freeze”
response. Now our bodies’ have developed this amazing reaction to help keep us
safe. For thousands of years humans’ biggest challenge was survival. They had
to worry about wild animals, and heights, warring tribes and other dangers. So the
body developed this instinctual way to keep us safe. Now unfortunately in
current day we don’t have nearly as many of these real and immediate dangers so a
lot of times this reaction it just makes us uncomfortable. When faced with a real
and immediate danger like a tiger our instincts take over- We have three main
reactions 1. Fight 2. Run away or 3. Freeze. These come naturally, we don’t have to
think about it. These reactions actually turn off the thinking part of our brain-
it’s kind of like a Star Trek when the captain says “All power to shields” and
they lower the lights on the bridge. (Yes, I am a nerd!) Now the front part of our
brain-the prefrontal cortex-that’s the part that is thinking, words, planning…
that all gets mostly shut down. And the back part of our brain which is reactive
and instinctive gets amped up. This can be really helpful if you’re facing a
tiger because if you’re facing a tiger and you take time to plan out what your
next move is you’re most likely going to get eaten. However this is not helpful if
your perceived danger is a public speech and the front part of your brain turns
off. Or you’re asking out a date and all of a sudden you can’t make words come
out of your mouth. That’s when it becomes a real pain. Our body does other things
to try and keep us safe it sends extra extra blood to the big
muscles which takes the blood flow away from our extremities like our hands and
feet so that’s where the phrase “cold feet” comes from. It makes us start to
sweat so our hands will often get cold and sweaty or cold and clammy. It
turns on the adrenaline glands-those start pumping out, this gives us energy
for a quick burst to either run away or punch someone- but later on that
adrenaline gives us the shakes. It turns off our digestive system because we
don’t really need to be digesting that hamburger when we’re running away from a
tiger. However when our digestive system turns off that can cause all sorts of
problems like a decreased appetite, tight feeling in the stomach, dry mouth and
even people could get the runs or wet their pants. Obviously these are all
outcomes that we don’t really want. The fight flight freeze response also
tightens the muscles. It heightens some senses like vision gets pinpointed,
creating tunnel vision. Our breathing rate gets shorter and shallower so we’re
breathing faster but not deeper. And our heart rate goes up. The fight flight
freeze response also temporarily turns off the immune system. Now that’s also a
good thing because again it’s all power to shields where we’re putting all power
to keeping ourselves alive. But if the fight flight freeze response
is turned on all the time then our immune system is turned off much of the
time, and that’s why people who are always stressed out are often getting
sick. Now with the freeze response we sometimes see a few different things
than the fight-or-flight response. More frequently we’ll see people feeling numb,
people shrinking, hiding or complying- just going along with what the person or
the thing in power seems to be wanting. Now this response- this fight flight
freeze response- could be really helpful in situations where there’s
real and immediate danger. And it’s meant to work in short bursts. The problem that
happens is when we are constantly having this reaction to things that aren’t real
dangers they’re just perceived threats. Like a boss asking to talk with us or a
public speaking event. When we are constantly in the fight flight freeze
response then our body gets trapped in this elevated state for a long period of
time. This leads to exhaustion, insomnia, muscle tension, digestive
problems, and frequent illnesses. In an upcoming video we are going to
teach you how to train your mind and body to respond differently to threats,
to resolve anxiety, and to train your nervous system to return to calm quickly.
For now the best thing you can do is to just start noticing your body’s reaction.
Notice what happens when you’re going into fight flight or freeze mode and
just give it a label like “I’m having a fight response right now”. I hope this was helpful thanks for watching and take care


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