Three deadly F-words: Fright, Flight, Freeze
Stress is finally getting the bad press it deserves.
No matter how “spiritual” or Zen we are, humans are hardwired to sense a threat to our well-being.
A part of our brain, the amygdala, is actually nicknamed the Fright, Flight or Freeze Center!
You might be more familiar with the old-fashioned “fight or flight” response we were taught in school.
The sympathetic nervous system is activated when you’re in “fight or flight” mode.
A physical response immediately kicks in when the brain perceives (real or unreal) danger.
As soon as a threat is perceived and received, our heart, brain, legs and hands are ready to run the heck out of Dodge.
Sabre-tooth tiger at your door? Run to the hills!
New deadline on your desk? Run to the hills!
The sympathetic nervous system does not know the difference.
Chronic stress and/or cumulative exposure to toxic people, places and things wreak havoc on all parts of our well-being.
What makes life even harder on our nervous system these days?
Researchers estimate that every single day we make 35,000 conscious decisions.
So, every day, 365 days of the year, our mind, body and spirit are downloading, processing, responding and – you know it – reacting to what and whom is around us.
From an Eastern medicine perspective, inflammation is a warning sign from the body that we are overloaded, overwhelmed and needing a strong bridge over our troubled waters (e.g., common precursors to inflammatory dis-ease include sensitivity to light, sound and touch).
Inflammation warning signs can range from arthritis to lupus to nephritis (kidneys inflammation) to irritable bowel syndrome.
True, these types of disorders and dis-eases don’t sound (or feel) like warnings.
But remember: inflammation of the nervous system is like a smoke signal warning us that a potential fire is smouldering.
When our sympathetic nervous system is out of balance, we’re offered a chance to redirect our energies so we can avoid a truly catastrophic health diagnosis.
With the health-and-wellness stakes so high, how can we make life easier on the nervous system so we feel calmer, healthier and live with passion and Joy?
Less anger, less hate, more love & laughter. Sure, anger and hatred are natural but they’re also the most toxic emotions under the sun – and our skin! – if left untreated.
Rage, resentment, frustration and emotional numbness (aka deep freeze!) are dark cousins of even the most righteous and environment-appropriate anger.
Stay mindful of this phenomenal fact: Sixty seconds of angers weakens the immune system for up to five hours.
What happens when you giggle for 60 seconds? Your immunity increases and your entire nervous system is soothed for 24 hours.
Laugh more, rage less. Please. Especially in traffic.
Expression not repression. The toughest physical conditions I see and treat at our clinics are lovely, good people with deeply repressed emotions.
Your issues truly are in your tissues.
While there is no inherently “bad” emotion, some feelings are held onto (e.g., unforgiveness), suppressed (e.g., passive aggressiveness) and, worse of all, detached from completely (e.g., denial, displaced anger).
The body knows and says no to holding secrets. Inflammatory disorders are best met with an open heart, kind mind and loving guide.
Clean up your junk. No big surprises here. Processed foods, artificial sugars, greasy/fatty/fried food, booze, cigarettes and drugs of all types; absolutely not the diet of champions but of inflammation.
As you clean up the junk on your fork, remember your environment too.
Toxic air, toxic conversations, toxic television, toxic people, toxic lighting, toxic cleaning supplies, toxic scents.
These are easy removals that feel good and empower your overall health and well-being.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to feel “fright, flight or freeze” out there.
But you and I have a choice, my friend.
We can consciously make the decision (one of our 35,000+ daily choices!) to heal, balance and protect our mind, body and spirit.
From my nervous system to yours, here’s to smelling smoke but never seeing fire.