Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your Flight or Fight Response

Your flight or fight response or stress response is a major cause of most illnesses.  The flight or fight response is build into us - it was  a survival mechanism when human lived in the wild, hunting and gathering.  This response helped us survive in the wild where there was constant danger.

However, this same response is now causing us harm because we are no longer in the wild and there are hardly any physical threats to our lives.  Our stress response kicks in for situations that don't require it, for e.g. during a verbal argument, just before a test, or during or before a job interview etc.. The flight or fight response causes our heart rate to go up, we sweat, clench our fists- these are only physical responses- internally our digestion system and immune system shuts down, and cortisol- a stress hormone pumps into our blood stream.  Since there is no actual danger to our lives and we neither flee nor fight, our bodies keep producing cortisol, constantly keeping us in a stressed state. In other words the  immune system is constantly compromised, the digestion system doesn't function at its best and your body is  unable to rejuvenate and relax, leaving you more susceptible to illnesses.

So, how do you manage your stress response?
Deep breathing and consciously relaxing your tense muscles when you feel panic or stress helps.  Additionally, to maintain a calm mind and body, meditation works wonders.  I personally would strongly recommend meditating at least 10 minutes everyday. Meditation will keep you calm and allow you to effectively lead a stress free life.