“Flight or Fight” When a person experiences mental, emotional or physical stress, the body reacts. It floods the system with biochemicals and hormones to enable the body to handle the stressful situation.  This is called the “flight or fight” response.

Every organ of the body responds, the muscles tense up so that you can jump, run or struggle with maximum strength; the blood pressure rises to quickly transport fuel to the muscles, breathing quickens to provide more oxygen; heart races to rush the oxygen to the muscles, The liver pours forth sugar and the fat cells release fat.

So you can see how repeated feelings of stress can lead to pain and tight muscles, high blood pressure, anxiety, a rapid heart rate, and weight gain.

Additionally, when a person is stressed, systems that don’t immediately serve this “flight or flight” response shut down.  For instance, the immunity and digestive system.  Energy is finite.  You don’t need to digest that food while your body is undergoing stress.

Although heavy traffic, work deadlines and credit card statements are not like running from a saber-tooth tiger, our body still responds to them as if they were.  Your heart still races and hormones still flood your bloodstream with sugar and fat.

For many people, this stress response happens multiple times throughout the day.

This is chronic stress, and over time this repetition of the “fight or flight” response, begins to alter our everyday physiology and health.

If you shift your consciousness to understand that stress can lead to disease, maybe it will make you manage it better.

So What Can You Do to Reduce the Effects of Stress?  Slow Deep Breathing. 

In contrast, the system that works antagonist to the “flight and fight” system is the “rest and digest”.  What stimulates the “rest and digest” system?  Deep relaxed breathing.  Reminding people to BREATHE is our gold nugget for stress management.  We tend to hold our breath when under pressure, which leads to poor oxygen delivery and increased muscle tension.

Follow this simple breathing exercise the next time you feel stressed.

  • 6 breathes in one minute, every minute.
  • 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out.
  • Immediately lowers Blood Pressure.
  • Immediately kicks in the “rest and digest”.

You can also lower stress by ingesting essential fatty acids (such as omega-3 fatty acids), which ensure that our cell membranes are optimally functioning, especially in the brain, which is largely made of fat.

  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish such as salmon 2 x week, black cod and sardines. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
    • If you’re not eating 2 pieces of salmon a week, take a Fish or Krill Oil supplement
    • Non-fish options: ground flax seeds and walnuts are excellent. Chia seeds are an alternative to flaxseeds and are very nutritious.

Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try and relieve their symptoms. Although these substance bring temporary relief, they tend to stress out an already stressed system.