There’s so much going on in our world right now. What do you do when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or unsure of where to spend your time and energy?
Do you curl up in a corner and ignore the world around you?
Do you scan headlines on your phone for hours, looking for some sign that things are changing?
Do you buy a generator and store up 6 months worth of food and water?
Do you look for farmland to move onto?
Do you stand outside the home of your governor with signs?
All of these are normal human responses, and doing any of these things is not necessarily a bad idea. But these could all be survival responses. Having a fight, flight or freeze response when new and stressful things are happening to you or around you is a normal reflexive response, one that we share with other mammals. But we are more than mammals. We are humans, capable of higher thought. And because we are humans we can respond to events in ways beyond simple reflexes. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Thankfully we can often do much to control our environment, making it less likely that we encounter situations that cause the reflexive fight, flight or freeze reaction. These situations are more common in our modern, globally-connected world. It is often our connection to the outside world that triggers us. So what do we do about it?
Well, there’s a lot you can’t do about it! You can’t change what is happening in other countries or other states (at least not immediately). But you can do one thing starting right now.
Take control of your connection.
Don’t be passive in what comes at you every second of every day. Think about what hasn’t changed since you first purchased a smartphone. Wars were already happening. People were already getting sick and dying. Stock markets have always taken dives. There have always been politicians who have been corrupt.
Those things aren’t new… so what changed?
The only thing that changed is that you now have access to all this information almost instantly. Anytime you open your phone or go to a news channel you are bombarded with all that is happening everywhere in the world. And because you are a kind, loving person you react—with sadness, anger, frustration, or a desire to help. But the problem is that most of these things are not happening to you, or even to the people you know. At the most these stressful or bad things may affect you indirectly, but most of the time the things you hear and read about have no direct effect on you at all. And because of that you can’t do anything about it… which means there is no resolution or way for you to automatically get out of your fight, flight or freeze mode. This is a problem! It causes your body to be constantly experiencing stress, which will affect your hormones, sleep, appetite, weight, and ability to think, love, etc.
If you want to be healthy, you can’t be constantly stressed!
Now I’m not saying that you should be so disconnected that you don’t know about things happening around you. We live in a world where things are often changing rapidly. In fact, I think it’s incredibly important to be connected and involved in your local community right now. But the question is who is in control of how and when you get your information? Are you in control? Or is someone else?
Even information from the most trusted, honest and unbiased source can still cause the fight, flight or freeze response. And when we are in this stress or fear response we are unable to think of anything beyond our basic survival. And when we are in fight, flight or freeze mode we will not be able to think through all the options available to us. The truth is that we have control in every situation we are in. We may not have control over the things we want to have control in, but no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we have decisions that we can make. Steven Covey talks about this in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He describes that we all have a response-ability, or ability to respond in every situation we are in.
Are you feeling helpless? Can you think of no other solutions besides get out, fight back or stay still? Then you are stuck in fight, flight or freeze! You can get out of it by stepping back. Take response-ability in your situation. Turn off your notifications. Delete certain apps. Hang out with different friends. Go camping without reception. Do the thing that is good for you, the thing that gets you out of your fear response and into higher levels of thinking. When you do that you will find that you do have a lot of control in what decisions you can make.
What are some things you do to get out of fight, flight or freeze? What happens to you when you do? If you want to share, feel free to comment below!
As I shared in our most recent newsletter…
Many have lived through difficult times like this before.
You always have a choice.
And, you are not alone.