“Fight or Flight” & Calming Your Nervous System
We’re all traumatized to an extent.
And trauma affects people differently: some may simply move on, while others may experience panic attacks (like I admittedly have).
But there ARE ways to heal from it and calm the attacks and elevated anxiety.
Allow me to elaborate.
Trauma is defined as “a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience.” It can be acute and short-term from one-time events (like a car crash or loss of someone you love) and/or chronic and long-term from prolonged events (like multiple losses or repeated abuse).
When traumatized, our bodies go into fight, flight, or freeze (or fawn) mode, activating our central and peripheral nervous systems. While this may uncomfortably heighten our anxiety (whether real and present danger is existent or not), it’s our bodies way of protecting us.
Why do I say that everyone is traumatized? After all, not everyone has experienced assault, repeated bullying, tragic events, losses, neglect, etc.
What have we all experienced? Life! And more specifically, the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to learn ways to avoid sickness and death (for ourselves and for others) due to a complex strain of mutating viruses that have caused global crisis. In other words, we’ve been in long-term fight or flight mode, causing our bodies to anticipate threat on a daily basis. It’s how we’ve come as far as we have as a species.
But living in a state of fight or flight can wreak havoc on our nervous systems, which control our stress responses, causing our nervous systems to become dysregulated.
When our nervous systems are dysregulated, we experience the mental AND physical effects “such as chronic stress or anxiety, burnout, and various types of chronic pain or illness.” It can affect our mood and irritability, feelings of panic, appetite, immune response, hormones, quality or lack of sleep, as well as mysterious pain flair-ups.
If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to explore the many ways you (we) can regulate and heal our nervous systems, as explored in this HYNS article and this PsychAlive article. There’s no one size fits all, so I encourage you to explore what works for you!
For me, humming, singing, and petting my fur baby help me ground myself and deactivate my overactive nervous system.
I sincerely hope you find something that helps you as well!
As always, thank you for listening!