During the hunting and gathering stage of the human race, whenever one was attacked by a wild animal or was facing any form of danger, the fight or flight response was triggered by the body. Adrenalin and other stress hormones would be released, the heart would pump much faster to get oxygen to the muscles necessary to fight or flee, blood glucose levels rise to increase the body’s energy levels and unnecessary systems at this time such as digestion and immune shut down.
This has not changed one bit, and today’s dangers are in the form of trying to beat deadlines, fighting with our friends or spouses, arguing with our boss, being stuck in traffic, running late, among others. The problem with these situations, our perceived danger cannot be fought or fled from as this would be counterproductive. Imagine running from your boss or punching him/her. Yet all these stresses cause the flight or fight reaction which has the following shortcomings:
-Non-essential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions making one susceptible to attacks by disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
- Heart rate and blood pressure increase. If perpetual, it leads to catastrophic conditions such as high blood pressure
In order to reduce the effects of these stress hormones and enable the body to break them down, one needs to excersice. Not necessarily vigorous, five minutes of push ups that make you break a sweat, or even 10 minutes of brisk walking can break down these hormones.
It is even much better to look at long term ways of reducing the triggering of these hormones such as the ones below:
- Constantly strive to calm your mind by living in the present moment, concentrate on what you are doing at any given point as opposed to fearing about the future.
- Meditate or use mantras that help calm the mind. The mind’s chatter of always perceiving danger or fearing future outcomes causes the fight or flight response.
NELLIE NTHIGA, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Health Centre.