- Mental Health
Fight or Flight
In the Response Mode
With the recent attacks on law enforcement in Texas, shootings in Orlando, and a growing culture of violence at home and overseas, many people are afraid and in flight or fight mode. This response is a psychological reaction that happens when a person is facing a perceived harm or threat to their survival. The problem is today most of what causes this release of stress hormones is stuff such as traffic, meeting a deadline, or having to interact with a stranger. It isn't a real threat to our survival; it is just perceived that way. I have been told that too much stress can cause any illness because it lowers the immune system and makes us more susceptible to disease.
In the brain, the adrenal medulla produces a hormone that causes a secretion of catecholamines, especially norepinephrine and epinephrine. When this response happens, the body tenses up and becomes extremely alert. When people are in this state of mind they are not thinking rationally. When in this state of alarm, everything is perceived as an actual enemy even when there is not an enemy.
Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
- Sleeping problems
- Change in cleanliness (becoming overly clean or tidy or the opposite extreme being slovenly)
- Changes in appetite and frequent urination
- Avoidance of other people because it is too stressful to be around them
- Disengagement from parenting, working, and/ or finishing projects.
Coping Skills for Too Much Stress
The number one coping skill for excessive stress is exercise. Exercise enables the release of neurotransmitters that improve mood, burn away stress hormones and adrenaline, and wear out the muscles and anxiety among other benefits to your health. Exercise has proven to reduce anxiety just as much if not more than anti-anxiety medication. Along with exercise, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated are also very important. People who are getting the rest they need are able to cope better with stress.
Benefits of Exercise
Other Things that Lower Stress
- getting a massage
- listening to music you like
- yoga (exercise)
- lazy walks (also exercise)
- reading, writing, or getting your mind off what is bothering you
- social support
How to Help Manage Stress
Bad vs. Good Copping Skills
Many people who are stressed out turn to alcohol as a way of coping. The problem with this is that it is a drug that just makes you go numb to whatever is bothering you and the world as a whole. If you keep on drinking excessive alcohol and numbing yourself you start to lose the ability to cope with life's difficulties on your own or without the help of drugs and an addiction is formed. The person feels like he/she cannot live without the alcohol or other drug of choice. People are social animals. One of the biggest components of combating stress is having social support. If you are isolated or feel isolated and alienated from society, it increases anxiety and adds to the fear of the rest of the world.
Some people just can not get the social support they need. If this is the case there is a need to find a way to relax the mind and reading is an excellent way to do that. It lets the person escape from reality and focus his/her mind on something else which causes the individual to relax and wind down. It is also educational and gets the reader to think about different people, circumstances, and cultures so that he/she can better learn how to access their own circumstances. There is tons of research that points to the fact that reading fantasy increases empathy in people. A good book is Spellbound which is a historical fantasy by Megan Fricke..
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