The fight or flight response can rob other parts of the brain used for thinking and strategizing.
One of the ways we respond to threats in our environment is to release cortisol and adrenaline – the impact of this is that it increases blood sugar and redirects energy to deal with the threat.
The amygdala respond with what we call Fight, Flight or Freeze responses.
The older, more primitive parts of our brain react as though threats are physical and power up our muscles. We also ramp up our blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugars and fats in order to supply the body with extra energy.
Our Pre-frontal cortex – the bit responsible for evaluating and inhibiting, strategizing and planning is in this situation robbed of the very specific diet of neurochemicals it needs to be functional.
This is bad news for the many of us whose work is knowledge work or whose lives revolve around negotiating with other people.
Many of you will be familiar with the term Amygdala Hijack which can be triggered by a range of events where thinking clearly would really be a better response than running away, putting our fists up or deer in the headlights.
Experiences such as the boss requiring a meeting, a challenge to our reputation, being pushed for time. financial or relationship challenges - all these can rock our world and push us into a threat or anxiety state.
The hormones that are released into your bloodstream result in:
Your body diverts resources away from bodily maintenance to high alert and preparedness for fight or flight.
While such a bodily response may be appropriate when about to be attacked by a tiger or a knife-wielding mugger in a lane, it is an inappropriate response to much of the stress encountered in modern life.
The faster we can recognize that our equilibrium has been rocked and we are in a threat state the better. Try to learn your threat responses so that you can Acknowedge (the first part of the 5A approach to stress relief) your state quickly and try to get your wits back on line.
Knowing your stress signature and how you respond to stress can help you to reduce stress quickly and respond with in an emotionally sensitive way.