Picture this scenario: I’m giving a presentation to 150 people in an auditorium that has one door on the right side and one door on the left side. As I’m fielding a question from the audience, a mountain lion walks through the door on the right.
Would you expect me to announce that the presentation is ending prematurely, thank everyone for coming, casually stroll to the door on the left, and shake each person’s hand as they leave? Of course not.
You should probably expect to see me sprinting face first through the wall on the left, door or no door, probably breaking every bone in my face, and running down the street to escape an obviously dangerous situation.
This response to extreme stress is what’s known as fight or flight. This is a built-in mechanism through our design of our sympathetic nervous system. Every individual has the ability to experience fight or flight when tragedy and trauma occurs.
Years ago, I experienced fight or flight when something fell on my daughter. As we rushed her to the hospital, I was overcome by this massive hormonal stress response because my daughter had been injured. After calming down from that fight or flight episode, I slept for 16 straight hours because, after a very stressful episode, the body re-balances its hormones and sleep is a necessity. This type of response is special and reserved and preserved for only “lion in the room scenarios.”
We’ve all heard stories of people lifting a car off of their children. That adrenaline rush and energy surge is a fight or flight reaction.
Fight or Flight vs. Daily Energy
We can’t control the “tragedy and traumatic” uncontrollable stress, but that’s not the type of stress we encounter in our daily activities anyway. The fight or flight pathway should be reserved for moments of extreme duress or tragedy. It’s not supposed to be used to help us get through bad traffic, cope with a long line at the bank, or get through a lousy day at work.
Our day-to-day lifestyle and how we control our response to stress will determine how we feel, how we function and even how long we live because stress is a major component to chronic illness like heart disease which kills 50% of Americans.
When we tap into fight or flight, we’re using resources in our body that leave us tired and stressed out, and interfere with brain chemistry. These are serious physiological consequences of stress.
The Effects of Carrying the Burden of Stress
The components of stress are tied to the Triad of Health. Stress has very specific physical, nutritional and psychological components, creating a heavy burden on so many of us. We carry this burden like a massive weight strapped to our shoulders when we’re stressed or depressed.
This stress has a direct impact on our physiological systems – our hormonal system, endocrine system, neuromuscular skeletal system, immune system, digestive system and more. The toxification and poor nutritional choices caused by this stress load cause us to not feel well, not function well and not live quality years – the exact opposite of what we help you achieve through the Proodian Healthcare companies.
We can do better.
Controlling your response to stress is a giant step toward taking back your health. Turning off the TV and avoiding stressful events during the evening is a great start. Spending meaningful time with the people you love, eating an abundance of healthy fruit and vegetables, exercising the right way for your age and body type, and drinking plenty of water are a great start.
This is the year of the family, so let’s try to help our families – at home and at work – reduce the physical, mental and nutritional impact of stress by managing the response to stress. If you’re not sure how to do that on your own, contact us at Natural Healthcare Center.
Have you had a fight or flight experience? How well are you controlling your response to daily stress? Share your stories here!
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.