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Health

How To Naturally Switch Off the Flight or Fight Response

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There is no doubt about it that life can sometimes feel overwhelming. I want you to take a moment to let the following sink in-it is normal to feel stressed or anxious. These feelings are sometimes inevitable when obstacles present! Stress always comes bearing a multitude of unfavorable mental symptoms but much less talked about are the physical symptoms.

  • Does your body feel like it is on a permanent flight or fight response
  • Have you thought of how stress and anxiety can negatively impact your health?
  • Want to find out how you can tell if your body is physically exhibiting symptoms of too much stress?
  • Do you want an explanation of how the human stress response works from an experienced Doctor of Naturopathy?

Then you have definitely come to the right place! This article is for you. So let’s not waste any more time and let’s pass the mic to an expert…

What is the Fight or Flight response?

The most qualified person to answer the above question and help explain the answers would be a Doctor of Naturopathy! Meet my go-to Naturopath (who I do consult with quite a bit!), Dr. Samina Mitha, ND.

Dr. Samina Mitha, ND completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Honours Science and Business. She worked for an online health company called Everyday Health Inc. in New York City before she decided to go back to school to become a Naturopathic Doctor. Samina Mitha completed her post-graduate Doctor of Naturopathy degree at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.
Click here to book an online appointment with her!

You may also like 5 M’s to Naturally Conquering your Anxiety by Dr. Samina read the article here!

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When stress hits the body’s first response is to release our adrenaline hormones – epinephrine and norepinephrine. Follow that the brain will release cortisol – our stress hormone. Behavioral responses will follow such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and release energy to help fight the “danger” at hand redirecting blood flow to the heart, muscles, and brain and away from the digestive system. This process uses up lots of energy, nutrients, and fluids.

Once the stressor has passed the body works to turn off these brain signals to eventually recover, relax and replace lost nutrients to re-establish balance. In our modern-day world, the biggest part that is missing in the stress response is the RECOVERY phase. We are bombarded with recurring events such as traffic, work stress, negative self-talk, environmental toxins, artificial lighting, relationship issues, finances, and the list goes on. These daily stressors can cause the stress response to be turned on all the time without enough time to recover.

Any Thoughts On How We Know When The Fight or Flight Response is Physically Affecting Us?

When your body is often stressed for long periods of time. Your anxiety may also start to feel like it is constantly creeping up on you. It could seem like you are permanently running off adrenaline. These are symptoms of chronic stress and they occur worst as time goes on- especially if nothing is done to calm the nervous system down. Dr. Samina lists these symptoms to look for in order to know if your human stress response is being overworked…

  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Digestive issues
  • Changes in appetite (ie. increased or decreased)
  • Depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Infertility 

Now that we have gone over exactly what happens to our body when the human stress response is switched on… How can we naturally switch off the Fight or Flight Response?

1. Fight Anxiety And Stress With Exercise & Yoga

As a Fitness Trainer, I can confidently state that exercise and yoga both are amazing at conquering the fight or flight stress response. Our body switches to this response once it senses a dangerous situation (biologically speaking).

In today’s hectic world, what used to be a “dangerous situation” our body needed to react to eons ago, is now a constant steady stream of working endless hours, deadlines and quotas, financial issues, relationship problems, and other stressors that have somehow made their way to normalcy.

Burning that energy needed to set your sympathetic nervous system at bay is what I would consider a great quick fix that satisfies your body’s need to “fight”. So why not give your stress response what it needs to make the physiological switch to relax?

Exercise can also calm you down quickly by releasing some pretty astonishing “feel good” hormones!

Similarly, Yoga offers several of the same benefits as exercise. In addition to these positive benefits, yoga allows you to ground yourself in a way that enables you to practice grazing the surface of mindfulness.

Concentrating on your breath and how your body feels against the gravitational forces that the Universe pushes back at us, is HUGE in regards to feeling calm again. This is the whole purpose of mindfulness, being aware of your presence!

2. Experience What Happens To The Body When Mindfulness is Implemented

As a matter of fact, using mindfulness is our next point to help reduce those anxious and stressful feelings. As mentioned above, practicing being aware and present can be extremely helpful in terms of permanently getting your body to start healing from chronic stress. You can read more about this tip and more in my article here Use These Amazing Tips to Relieve Anxiety Naturally. You would be surprised at how many of these tips can actually help to switch off the Fight or Flight Response as well!

3. Calm the Adrenaline Down With Herbs

Here are a few helpful herbs that Dr. Samina has suggested: Avena sativa, Chamomile, Humulus, Valerian. I have personally had a lot of success using Valerian Root Extract to calm my nerves. I came across this when I was looking for herbs to help with my Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

4. Tap into Your Relaxation Response aka The Parasympathetic Nervous System

How do you actually allow your dominant sympathetic nervous system to take the back seat? Well, one technique is to use breathing exercises to calm your stress down. Try taking deep diaphragmatic breaths that allow you to use the full capacity of your lungs. Breath in deeply all the way and out all the ways and pause when finished each inhale and exhale for a few seconds before moving on.

5. Use Your Thoughts As a Defense Mechanism

We have all heard of the saying “mind over matter”.

As cliché as this may sound, this phrase does hold a lot of value when it comes to overcoming obstacles that we are faced with. In times where you feel like your fight or flight response is stimulated to its max, try and talk yourself into coping with the stressor that is affecting you. For example, ask yourself what about the situation will actually harm me? Be prepared that when stress starts to build, anxiety may sometimes come with it. Equip yourself with the tools that work for your individual situation and be ready to use them.

The takeaway here is to tell yourself that these feelings are normal and your body is just implementing the switch that turns on the fight or flight response. Your body does this in order to get through what stimulated it in the first place.

In other words, repeat to yourself that you are fine. You just need to trust that your body will do what it needs to do in order to cope.

6. Switch Off The Stress With Supplements

MaryRuthOrganics.com

Dr. Samina offers a few supplement remedies to help switch off the fight or flight response. A few major supplements that can help you feel calm include:

  • L-theanine (found in Green Tea)
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B5 and B6

You can now consider yourself equipped with the best research-based techniques to calm your sympathetic nervous system. Strategically use these coping suggestions to ease your stress.

Comment below if you have used any of these strategies to cope with your stress! Share your experience with dealing with stress or anxiety, we would love to help in any way we can!

11 Comments

  • Chloe

    Thanks for a helpful post on stress with the profession to back up. I love all the actional tips to help us be in the Fight or Flight state. Another herbal supplement I found helpful to take the edge off is Tulsi Holy Basil.

  • Cooking with Carbs

    Thank you for this great post. I’ve definitely noticed myself being in a more relaxed/calm state after a workout, but haven’t focused too much on the impact of herbs. This is interesting and something I’ll focus on more in the future. Thank you!

  • Nancy

    This is a fantastic and informative post. I truly believe that stress breeds disease and it is so important to tackle it and address it head on. I usually turn to exercise which helps me but I think you presented some great options in this post. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Celeste

    I had no idea magnesium could help with anxiety! I’ve tried exercising and doing breathing techniques, but I can still go into panic mode sometimes. I’ll definitely have to look into taking some magnesium supplements to help out! Thanks for sharing!

    • Erica Olivia

      Yes!! Magnesium can help with many things, it is vital for proper body function and can ease stress and anxiety! I’m so happy you could get some useful information from this post.

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