By: Dr. Angela Hanlon, ND – www.ndoc.ca
– Dr. Angela believes in empowering through teaching, and blends traditional and modern medicine for sustainable health care.
Stress takes a toll on the body, and there are lots of self-help books out there to spend your money on. However, most of my patients lack a basic understanding of the stress response. This is about the nervous system, and something I like to call ‘perceived threat.’ Here are some things I think you should know.
The Stress Response: Prolonged Fight-or-Flight
The stress response is a state that most of us call “fight-or-flight,” and if we’re in this state long enough, the nervous system can move toward a state of collapse (i.e. we crash). We can’t thrive to the best of our potential when stuck in fight-or-flight. Instead we’re tired, cranky, and forgetful. We also have heightened senses, meaning that annoying sounds are really annoying and bright lights can seem blinding. Bad smells can seem nauseating, quick movements can make us gasp, and crowded places can be overwhelming.
Stress & Triggers
Triggers are also called stressors. The body perceives stressful situations in the form of triggers. Even without us knowing, the body can go into the fight-or-flight state as a result of a trigger. We’re not always aware that we’ve encountered a trigger. We may simply start feeling unwell and not understand why. If this occurs, take a moment to look at your surroundings. Was there a sound, a movement out of the corner of your eye, or an odour that may have triggered you? Are you in a place where something bad happened to you in the past? We all have triggers, they’re hard to avoid. When your system triggers, give yourself a moment to become aware.
After being triggered, the nervous system must make its way back to a state of neutral (wound down mode). This is a process, and it’s common for the nervous system to remain in wound-up mode, especially if we’re unaware of what’s happened.
There are intelligent ways to get our nervous systems out of the fight-or-flight state, and they aren’t complicated. They do however require some understanding. I’d like to explain this to you in more depth. If you’re interested in exploring this concept with me, call the clinic to book an appointment.