No matter what kind of lifestyle you lead, you are going to experience the fight or flight response at some point in your life. And while many people know how it makes them feel, it can be difficult for them to understand exactly what it is, why it’s there, and what it does to the body.
If you’re not sure what the fight or flight response is, keep reading. We’re going to break down the basics of this natural defense mechanism so you know all the ways your body naturally knows how to keep you safe.
What is the Fight or Flight Response?
The acute stress response, better known as the fight or flight response, is a reaction that your body has when it encounters something that scares you. It’s a physiological state that your whole body goes into in response to fear stimuli.
When your body goes into fight or flight mode, you will start to feel different. Your senses might feel heightened and you might either get the urge to run or feel unnaturally brave.
What Happens to Your Body?
When your body experiences what is known as an acute stressor, it kick-starts the sympathetic nervous system. This causes the adrenal glands to release hormones like adrenaline, which can cause a number of different physical changes to occur in your body.
The first thing you might notice is that your heart rate will start to pick up. Along with that will come an increase in your respiration. You might go pale or flush a little as well.
As this happens, your body is going to become more aware of your surroundings. Your pupils will dilate and you might notice that you start to shake a little as well.
You might also notice that your mouth goes dry, your muscles tense up, and your palms start to sweat.
Why Do You Need the Fight or Flight Response?
The main purpose of the fight or flight response is to provide you with a defense mechanism against the things that could potentially cause you harm. However, it’s not always a perfect system.
You are just as likely to react viscerally to a real threat, like a home intruder, as you would to an imagined one, like an active shooter training session. You know it’s nothing serious, but your body still works to keep you safe.
The fight or flight response actually works to train your body to know how to react to a real threat. The stress you feel can actually help you to survive whatever danger you might face.
It’s also important to learn how to relax after your fight or flight response is triggered.
Nature’s Survival Technique
The fight or flight response is nature’s way of preparing us for the worst. It’s not a comfortable feeling, but when you go through this natural response you can be sure that your body is attempting to react appropriately to a stressor, which means that you should be able to handle it better in the future.
The fight or flight response is your first line of defense against the stressors of the outside world!
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