Fight-Flight Mode: Why we’re stuck in it and how to get out

October 30, 2019 | By More

Your heart beats fast. Your muscles are tense. Your stomach is upset. You worry and your thoughts race. You feel anxious, frustrated and overwhelmed.

These are common signs that our bodies are in stress response, or Fight, Flight or Freeze mode. This state, where our sympathetic nervous system is working to get us out of danger, is only supposed to be short-term. But many of us live in this “crisis” mode most of our waking hours. 

Our nervous systems were not built to be in a chronic state of stress and it wreaks havoc on our health.

While we have work, family and other responsibilities, chronic stress is also caused by the consumerist, capitalist economy. Capitalism instills the limiting beliefs that our value and our worth is based on money, the things we own and our productivity, even if it leads to exhaustion and illness. 

Being in a state of Fight or Flight is also often linked to past trauma including intergenerational trauma. Our addictions to work, shopping, food, substances or TV, phone or computer screens are also often rooted in trauma. Consumerism feeds off this trauma to get us to buy more and do more at the expense of our health and the planet.

The parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the Rest and Digest state, allows our bodies to heal – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Here are a few tips on how to get in this state:

* Deep breathing and/or meditating

* Exercise

* Spend time in nature – 20 minutes significantly lowers stress hormone levels

* Read a book – 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by 68%

* Work to heal trauma – unhealed trauma can keep our bodies in Fight-Flight-Freeze mode

Self-care is important. But it is equally important to recreate a culture of community care so that we reconnect with each other and the earth. Our health and the health of the climate, water, land and communities are deeply interconnected. It is only when we have communities and an economy based on sustainability, equity and justice that we all can be healthy and whole.

Emma Lui is a Craniosacral Therapy and ThetaHealing® practitioner who supports people working through stress, trauma and intergenerational trauma. She is also a water and social justice activist. Her practice, Osiana Wellness, is based in the Ottawa region, on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Territory.

Category: Articles, Health & Natural Therapies

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