This post is a follow on from feeling under pressure and refers to the “freeze” part of “fight or flight”.
There are three aspects to the freeze response, all will be familiar to us to some degree but we will tend to dominate in one area.
Which one do you gravitate towards?
Freezing is of course what most of us tend to do in the face of stress. This means the physical reactions of the stress response carry on reacting in the body for a couple of days before using themselves up. As our reactions to life tend to be ongoing it’s easy see to why so many imbalances occur as a result of stress.
What all three freeze responses have in common is that no ‘action’ is being taken. This means the release of the hormones and the effects on the organs of the body remain in the bloodstream for several days, also, we have no satisfying conclusion to what has taken place so our mind tends to worry at it, going in circles with no relief.
The Three Aspects of the Freeze Response
Dissociation – Feelings are stuffed down and a calm face is presented to the world, good at coping. This can result in tight, tense muscles, health issues that seem to come out of nowhere, exhaustion and feeling that life is just sort of okay.
Flooding – Repeated or prolonged bouts of emotion such as crying, anger, fear etc. Some may think that excessive emoting is a form of release but the tendency to ‘flood’ will be on one or two repeating emotional themes, a repetitive negativity or a seeming need for drama. The problem is the emotive reactions are on a stuck loop with no conclusion, never getting to the core of the issue or fully releasing.
Distraction – We will all distract ourselves to some extent with food, alcohol, TV, social media, shopping, similar to dissociation, but we are now adding less than healthy substances or habits to the mix. This is taken to extremes with addictions or full blown OCD.
As these posts are about fatigue you may be able to see how tiredness could be the result of any one of the responses above. If we are not fully using up the need for action in the body or taking steps to turn the workings of the nervous system to that of “heal an repair” the continuous overuse of some systems and under-use of others in the body will undermine our health and energy reserves.
In the next post I will cover a very simple way of switching on the body’s ability to begin healing this response but in the meantime perhaps consider the following?
One way to begin decreasing the reactions that lead to the stress response is to observe your own habits and coping mechanisms; this begins to bring back a feeling of being in control of yourself. Feeling out of control of course is a part of the stress response and can almost feel traumatic to a certain degree depending on what the source of stress is.