The human race may not exist if it weren’t for the hard-wired acute stress response to threat. Also known as fight or flight response.
The brain sends warning signals through the central nervous system
the response can be triggered due to both real and imaginary threats.
You may notice a couple things happen to your body when encountering a “threat”
First your Brain has to decide if it’s a threat
A “threat” is an attack, harmful event, or threat to survival.
When the brain processes the signal the decides that it IS indeed a threat then something called ACTH (hormone) Adrenocorticotropic hormone is secreted and released by the pituitary gland. Who is stimulated by the adrenal cortex where cortisol is released along with adrenaline!
Your entire body is about to morph
Changing the respiratory rate rises immediately inducing shallow, rapid breathing and a rapid heartbeat. Blood is rushed away from our digestive tract and directed into our tense muscles which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting.
We become physically and psychologically—prepared for fight or flight.
The pupils dilate. Sight sharpens and awareness is peaked. Our impulses function even quicker. Our perception of pain diminishes.
We are prepared to take on anything at this point.
But let’s say this threatening event lasts for a little too long. The body is now is entering a different state.
Stress response happens a little differently
The Heart rate still increases causing sweating,shaking, and dilated pupils.
Digestion is slowed down followed by dry mouth and a flushed face.
The stress response can easily turn into chronic stress when life becomes filled with nothing but short term emergencies.
Chronic stress is basically your brain saying that it doesn’t feel “safe” and cannot return to a “healing state”. Which is actually “fight or flight”
But, What exactly is fight or flight?
• Confront the threat and deal with it
• Get as far away from the threat as quickly as possible
It’s exhausting and uncomfortable to spend so much time in a state of high alert.
Stress directly disrupts the body’s main job which is
Now the scientific definition of homeostasis for all of my fellow nerds out there.
It states “it is the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between independent elements, especially as maintained by physiological process.”
Which literally all that means is just that your body is constantly trying to keep you in balance. Because when you are out of balance it automatically creates an imbalance or dysfunctions somewhere else.
So wait what is stress?
Stress is ANYTHING that someone interprets as a “threat”. Everyone’s threats are different. Simply because everyone’s perception is different.
If not properly metabolized over time, excessive stress can lead to disorders of our autonomic nervous system from the cumulative buildup of stress hormones.
Imbalanced hormones lead to imbalanced systems. Imbalanced Systems create susceptibility to all sorts of things such as infection, chronic fatigue, depression, and autoimmune diseases like (Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease.)
Not only do they cause that but they show up in other places like physical consequences like high blood pressure, migraines, TMJ(temporomandibular joint) syndrome, fibromyalgia and digestive issues like IBS to name a few.
In no way shape or form am I saying that this automatic response ” fight or flight” is a “bad thing” or something we need to “turn off” or ” get rid of” as I stated in the beginning this is part of what has kept us alive during danger. I am simply stating that this response when in overdrive, can keep you locked in these states of protection which will ultimately prolong the healing results we need!