When humanity as a species was very young, survival was the number one priority. When encountered with a challenging situation, like possibly being eaten, humans kicked into their “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. Fight mode is a when people would try to fight off whatever predator was attacking them. Flight was running from the predator. Freeze was when people just froze and tried to avoid the predator’s attention.
Although the threat of being eaten has decreased dramatically since the dawn of humanity, our bodies continue to respond to acute stress as if it is a survival need. When stressed our bodies may display some of the following signals:
- Increase in heart rate
- Change in bowel movements
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep
- Tense muscles
- Dry mouth and throat
- Flushed skin
- Loss of sex drive
The way our minds work also change during times of acute stress. We may experience:
- Mood swings
- Angry Outbursts
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Increased desire to use alcohol or drugs
Stress is not by its’ existence a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary for survival. Some people even report thriving under stressful situations. However, when stress occurs continuously or without an adequate time to decompress after a stressful situation, our bodies can experience long term negative effects like heart attack, stroke, mental health issues and digestive issues.
A normal stress response occurs like this:
During times of persistent and enduring stress however, the body doesn’t have adequate time to crash. When it does finally have time to relax, it crashes deeper than it would have before. This reality is one the reasons that self care is so important.
From my poll last week, one of most common ways that you self care is exercise which tied with spending time alone. Following that was spending time with others and entertainment. Over the next few Sundays I will be giving some tips on those methods of self care. I will also chat about some of the methods of self care that I have found to be effective for me.