I wrote yesterday about emotionally focused therapy, and how it is among the tools I use to manage my anxiety. As part of that discussion, I described how my anxiety triggers my fight or flight response for everyday occurrences, such as interactions with my boss or personal conflicts. And as I’ll explain today, that is not a good thing, and it can result in my mental disorder causing very physical symptoms.
You see, fight or flight triggers physiological responses that are different from the normal. First, your pupils dilate. This is to allow more light in so that you can more clearly see what is happening with the perceived threat. Your heart rate increases, increasing blood flow to the muscles so that you can either run or fight. Your digestive and reproductive systems are relaxed, because they are less important in a flight or fight scenario. Also, your bronchi dilates, increasing oxygen flow to the lungs so that your muscles and blood are well oxygenated.
And all of these responses are awesome…if your are suddenly confronted with by a wild animal and you must either fight it off or run away. However, when your everyday routine is constantly triggering these responses, it can cause all sorts of physical maladies, from headaches, to stomach aches, to muscle aches, and more. It can also lead to total, all-out fatigue. Simply put, your body wasn’t meant to handle fight or flight responses that often.
And while I can manage my anxiety with medication, therapy, EFT, and other tools, it is still there. Which is why an important part of self-care is giving yourself time to recover. That is why this morning I slept in, eased into the day, made myself a nice pot of coffee, played with my cat, and allowed myself to recover from fight or flight fatigue.
I don’t necessarily take these days as often as I should, and when I am lacking on self-care days, the fatigue definitely catches up with me. Yet days like today are reminders of the importance of self care. If you are dealing with fight or flight fatigue, I hope you too are finding ways to take care of yourself. Because we all deserve a break from the grind of anxiety-driven fight or flight responses.
(Source information from Britannica.com.)