Fight, flight, freeze - anxiety at its finest
Updated: Feb 23, 2020
Ever wonder why our bodies go into fight, flight, or freeze modes when we are put in situations that bring upon us intense anxiety or fear? The short answer is that our bodies have an automatic response made to protect us from threat or danger. Similarly, anxiety has similar reactions in the brain and body as fear, even if we are not truly in danger. For instance, you might argue with your parents or partner for placing a curfew on how late you can stay out (fight). You might avoid going to a social event because you don't feel comfortable around people you don't know that well (flight). Your mind might go blank when you are asked a question at school in front of the whole class or at work during a meeting (freeze). All these examples provide ways in which anxiety can occur which can also be mistaken for a threat or danger.
There are several ways to combat these responses to help from feeling anxious to relaxed.
Four square breathing is an easy technique to follow. Here are the steps: inhaling to a count of four and then exhaling to a count of four, holding your lungs empty for a four-count, inhaling at the same pace, and holding air in your lungs for a count of four before exhaling and beginning the pattern anew.
Five Senses Spend a few minutes just listening to the sounds around you. What sounds do you hear? Are they loud or soft? Name 3 things you see around you. What do you smell? Pay special attention to interesting sounds you’ve never noticed before. This is also called mindfulness - being completely present in the moment.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Have you ever had an aching back or pain in your neck when you were anxious or stressed? When you have anxiety or stress in your life, one of the ways your body responds is with muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method that helps relieve that tension.