Are You Stuck in Fight or Flight?
By Sara Butler
Back when humans were cave dwellers and plains hunters, the central nervous system responded to perceived threats with something called the “fight or flight” response. And back then, many situations were really life or death and you needed to have that laser focus in order to survive. These days, there are few situations where your fight or flight response actually needs to kick in, but it’s not something you can control. In fact, if you’re under chronic stress, then your body may be in a perpetual state of fight or flight, and that’s not good for your health. Here are some of the ways you can tell if you’re constantly in this mode and how your chiropractor can help you get out of it.
When your body triggers the fight or flight response, then you will experience:
- Increased heart rate
- Slowed digestion
- Burst of energy
Your body releases cortisol and adrenaline in order to deal with what is perceived as a threat . The problem is your body can’t distinguish between an elephant chasing you and having a stressful commute where you’re stuck in traffic – it responds to it all the same. You may be able to see how this can become a problem because being stuck in this state when you don’t actually need to fight for your life is not healthy in the long term.
Sustained Sympathetic Tone
When you’re in a constant fight or flight state due to stress, this is technically called sustained sympathetic tone. And it can cause problems, including:
- Exhaustion or fatigue – You can be eating well and taking care of yourself, but still feel that you have no stamina.
- Slow metabolism – If the blood supply is constantly being rerouted to your muscles, then the digestive system slows and suffers.
- Poor immune response – Attention is focused elsewhere in your body, causing your immune response to be unsupported and unhealthy.
- Problems thinking – When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you tend to be forgetful.
- Generally feeling unwell – You may find you are snappy with people in your life.
You may also notice:
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep issues
Your solution to this problem lies with your chiropractor. They can make adjustments to your body that helps it to find balance again, and break the cycle of getting stuck in the stress response. Light exercise may also be recommended, but remember you don’t want to do too much or you risk putting more stress on your body.