Fight or Flight

Have you ever stopped and thought about how clever the human body is? Even when you’re asleep, it still makes sure your heart is beating, your lungs are getting air and your food is digested. We take it all for granted, but it really is very clever!

If you’ve got a functioning endocrine system, it’s even more clever. I definitely took this for granted when mine worked, in fact, I didn’t even know it existed until it stopped working properly! Hundreds of chemicals and hormones are doing their thing in the background without us even knowing it. One of these is your stress response or your ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanism.

Fight or Flight used to be the body’s way of warning about danger- you’d either fight the danger or run away from it if you were snuck up on by a dangerous animal (for example). So obvious modern-day examples of Fight or Flight kicking in are if you’re in a car accident or if you’re mugged. Adrenalin kicks in to keep you safe and giving you what you need to get out of immediate danger, and then cortisol is what brings you back down to your normal state again. But it also kicks in for a variety of different reasons, I discovered, not just the ‘you are in danger’ ones.

Last week I did a speech at my friends’ wedding. I used to be a teacher, so speaking in front of people isn’t an issue and I quite enjoyed doing the speech. Mentally, I wasn’t even remotely nervous. But my adrenal glands seemed to be! After the speech, I felt really weird- I had a headache, stomach cramps, had a lot of pain and felt more dizzy and shaky than usual. I worked out what must have happened so updosed 2.5mg of Hydrocortisone and it righted itself. So apparently Fight or Flight also subconsciously gets to work for things that the brain might not even consciously realise is something which requires it. Which makes the endocrine system even more clever!

So if you’re equipped with functioning adrenal glands, pause for a second and give them a metaphorical pat on the back. The system takes over in situations which you wouldn’t expect and continues to balances everything out even after you’ve ‘let go’ mentally of whatever it was that was making you feel ‘stressed’. Someone stealing the last parking space in the car park? That annoying colleague who makes you want to punch them when you have to have meetings with them? Your kids asking you the same question for the 95th time and you’re trying not to lose your patience? Or even as simple as you’re running late and feeling wound up? All fight or flight sorting you out to make sure you can carry on with your day.

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