“Help I need somebody” screams my brain… I feel my body freeze up like it’s been blasted frozen by a “night night gun” (from Agents of SHIELD)! There is a strange pulsating in my chest area… its not very comfortable and something feels wrong…
There maybe a little more moisture on my palms as I pay more attention to what’s happening to my body… my brow is furrowed into a look of concern and worry… my thoughts are jumbled, unable to think clearly like I’m hidden behind a screen… and my calves feel like electric shocks are zapping them… my neck feels like a block of concrete has been placed ontop of it weighing it down… and my eyes feel like they are wide open, like a deer in the headlights… is there anything else that wants to pipe in?? Have I missed anything?
Why is this happening?
Have you ever felt like this, or something like this, has happened to your body?
Like your body has become a jumble of uncontrollable frenzies, rendering thought and action difficult?
“Well hello there” says Mr FREEZE…
“Er… hi! I’m not sure I want to be meeting with you now old friend, I thought I’d said my farewells to you ages ago!”
“Alas… I am back! My apologies you weren’t expecting me!…
Maybe you were expecting my sister… Miss FLIGHT?…
Or was it my wife… Mrs FIGHT???…
Or may be our little children… Angry Aengus, Sad Sally, or Frightened Freda?”
“Um… Sorry but I didn’t really wish to feel like any of your interesting family members today!”
As interesting as they are, I’m not sure I appreciate these distracted conversations going on inside my head?! Do you?
“Wait a minute” I tell myself… “STOP!”… let’s have a holiday from all these thoughts… as I take a breath, I slowly fill up my lungs to their full capacity… hold it… then slowly and consciously breathe out every last drop of used air out from the back of my throat as I sink down towards the ground…
Is that any better?
Reasons for the Survival Response
Why did this just happen?
I was just told that I didn’t do something I was supposed to do, which could have resulted in a potential disaster.
Well, in the grand scale of things, it was not a life or death of some being kind of real disaster, it was merely the death of my business name! It was real enough to me to want to avoid potential heart ache, a lot of my time, effort and money to fix a problem which could have been avoided.
An innocent misunderstanding, instantly resulted in my survival response kicking into action, with me feeling like I’d done something horrendous that may be too late to recover from…
Different parts of my brain kicked into action over a perceived threat to my safety…
My amygdala (little almond shaped structures in my brain) perceived this threat… which, inconceivably fast, sent an instant barrage of messages via neurotransmitters to my hypothalamus then to the adrenal glands, all to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. All of this happening before I could blink, to prepare my body to fight, take flight, or freeze to protect itself.
Amasing stuff isn’t it! Well, not when we need to logically and calmly be able to sort out the current situation, and there is no need to perform some hero action of stopping a lion attack or be speedy like ‘the flash’ to jump out of the way of a speeding car!
Physiological Changes during the Fight/Flight/Freeze response
My physical responses behaved the way they did because my raised heart rate wanted to pump masses of blood quickly to feed my large muscle groups and main organs with enough to scitattle out of the dangerous situation. My increased blood flow to my legs were preparing me if I needed to run like the wind, or fight whatever was threatening me in this perceived life or death situation. And not forgetting my poor dumb struck inability-to-think-straight-brain. The survival area in my brain stem was steeling all the nourishing blood life force and depriving my frontal lobe from being able to reason out the situation, and make logical decisions.
Fortunately by using my slow deep breathing to calm my sympathetic system, and assessing the immediate environment to reassure myself I was not in a life threatening situation, I could restore my ability to think again. This then helped me to logic out the problem, and do what I needed to do to immediately rectify the situation and follow the steps to renew my domain name… phew!
I am sure we are all aware of how much our survival reflexes can be triggered when our lives feel threatened. Especially so over the last 2years with perceived threats here there and everywhere being reported to be threatening our health and safety. Once the immediate threat is over, we can then take steps to rest, repair and restore our sense of wellbeing and regain our vibrant life.
Problems may start presenting themselves when we are unable to turn off our survival mode, or feel like we are constantly living in a threatening situation with no end in sight, and no hope.
The gift of life
The most important thing, the gift of life if you like, is to be able to notice when our survival response is triggered and active. To be able to notice when we are being unnecessarily hypervigilant in our daily lives may in fact… save our lives. Bruce Lipton in his book “the Biology of Belief” (my favourite book at the moment) presents much research into how our physiology and structures of our brain can change and actually shrink when we are repeatedly in our sympathetic nervous system, when we are constantly feeling like our characters… Mr Freeze, Mrs Fight or Miss Flight!
How do we know if we are in ongoing survival?
Sometimes it is obvious when we are in our survival response, however, sometimes it is not. We may not realise we are instantly being triggered due to an ongoing underlying stress response keeping our sympathetic system active. We may have become an expert compensator, having buried deep hurts or feelings deep down over many years, coping with our problems, protecting ourselves, rather than getting the necessary support to deal with them to be free to live a life as your true self and fulfilled.
To keep it simple, only one system can be on at one time. For example… when our sympathetic system is switched on, we are in go go go mode, on the go, always doing things, then our parasympathetic is switched off. When our system is back to being calm, our parasympathetic system is switched on. We are then able to rest, relax, digest our food and ideas, and we can detox to clean out any waste products and emotions that aren’t serving us any purpose any more. So if there are any digestive issues, any feelings of bloated, windy episodes, if the system is clogged up, sluggish, difficult to detoxify or maintain any nutrition, we may be in a survival response with the sympathetic system continually on. Remember when our parents told us to sit down, be calm and eat? Aha! That’s why they said that. So many wise old wives sayings.
It is good to remember that emotions come and go like waves, little Angry Aengus, Sad Sally and Frightened Freda. We may feel them at the time, but they do not define us. Acknowledging them allows them to be heard and listened to, say their piece, then be able to calm down.
What Other Strategies can help to calm the fight flight survival response?
There were other techniques I could have used to assist my survival state. I could have….
…Physically… held some acupressure points to calm my system down quicker, and restore that nourishing blood back to my frontal lobe. By holding relevant acupressure points, can help to move any stuck or stagnating qi/energy. This in effect aims to remove a build up of whatever is restricting the flow of qi on an essential meridian pathway. When the flow of qi is restored to meridians, this can then smooth the way for other essential life force liquids to flow back to my extremities ….
…Used my sense of smell… by breathing in some grounding and calming tree oils like cedarwood or frankincense oil or the good old Stress AwayTM or Peace and CalmingTM oil, easily accessible in my bag. When I use the amasing high quality, cleanest oils of Young Living, I can feel their high vibration, and trust them when they pass directly through my nose into my limbic system to calm my emotional state. After all, essential oils are able to pass through the blood brain barrier and in through cell membranes to each cell, so I want to make sure they are free of any contaminates to enhance and build up my health and wellbeing.
It is essential to have tools to support our system when we are in survival… to give our bodies what we biochemically, physically, emotionally and structurally need to get us through the challenging time.
To be able to self soothe as much as we can for ourselves at any one moment. Practise is the key and the solution, to find and practise what works for us when we are calm in our own space, then it can be easier to use our muscle memory to draw upon what we need at that time we need it.
I have found seeking assistance with a trusted health professional (especially a Holistic Kinesiologist) eases the transition from survival to thriving. Having the support and guidance of someone who can tap into and have direct communication with our own bodies, muscles, systems, to find answers. To explore where bodies are holding stressful patterns, either physically, biochemically, psychologically or electromagnetically is precious. Finding out if there were any difficulties arising from birth, any inabilities to integrate the uterine or primitive reflexes, resulting in an active MORO (startle reflex), or whatever has prevented us from being able to self soothe, or restricted our abilities to learn or feel comfortable as ourselves.
There are many amasing techniques I feel honoured to have explored with my clients, including inner child supportive techniques, effective breathing, acupressure, brain integration, relaxation.
I love using the gentle Dr Bach’s flower essence of Walnut to assist people when going through any changes in life. I once heard his remedy, the Star of Bethlehem, to be described as a hug in a bottle.
Also, to be able to use the incredible work of Dr Schuessler, who developed the tissue salts, on a daily basis. To understand and see mineral deficiencies reflected in our skin and face. To be able to support our cells to easily absorb and utilise minerals, for instance a hot drink of Magnesium Phosphate 6x, can assist muscle relaxation, and assist with many other essential bodily functions.
Not forgetting of course, the importance of integration within our own society, having supports, a sense of community, feeling part of something bigger than us. The gift of connection to like-minded people, so we do not feel isolated.
How about this for an acronym…
Ways to help yourself truly “THRIVE”…
- Tissue Salts… replenish minerals with tissue salts to support your cells to cleanse, nourish and revitalise themselves.
- Help… get professional help from a Holistic Kinesiologist or other trusted Therapist to uncover what pushes your buttons to decrease stress levels and understand how to self soothe throughout the process and to find peace and calm inside and out.
- Relaxation daily to self soothe and keep your system calm to recall, restore, replenish, and rejoice with yours and your family’s magical true being.
- Insulate yourself with like-minded supportive network of friends and family, do not isolate. And use Ink to journal your thoughts to empty out anything that may be ruminating and cluttering up that amasing mind.
- Vibe… raise your vibes with enjoyable activities and high vibrational Essential Oils to vibrate with feeling full of life.
- Emotional support with flower Essences to settle those emotional storms and calm emotional patterns.
And… to finish, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful work of J K Rowling and her heart felt inspiring characters… ensure you have a stash of… (healthy home made – see my delicious recipe here)
CHOCOLATE on hand!
(always good for after you feel like you’ve survived through a Dementor attack!) 😉
Thank you for reading as always, and all the very best with truly thriving in life x