‘ITCHING’ TO RUN or FIGHT: Managing a ‘Ready to Take Off’ Stress, Fight or Flight Response

Itching

Remaining cool, calm and collected has been my ongoing goal to ensure that I stay grounded during times of stress, emotional upset and tragedy. My baseline calm default was altered in the past due to stress trauma and at times had me ‘idling’ on the edge. When stress and grief became a factor in my life, my ‘itchy’, ready to respond sympathetic nervous system ‘gas pedal’ would activate. This disrupted my overall balance, exaggerating my ‘not yet’ overcome vulnerabilities.

Some people have an over active, under active or faulty blood sugar, hormone, immune, heart or blood pressure response. Medically and generally accepted as ‘out of a person’s control’. An over active or run away stress, fight or flight response is seldom given the same understanding or acceptance. Extreme cases may be diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So what do you do if you find yourself somewhere between an ‘itchy’ stress, fight or flight response and PTSD? I am not going to mislead you by telling you there is a quick fix.  I have been working on restoring my baseline calm default for years using a variety of natural strategies and have made gains and experienced set backs.  The good news is the gains have been greater than the set backs. I am a ‘work in progress’, daily keeping my focus on my ultimate goal of ‘think, feel and respond like a Buddha’. You can find many of the holistic strategies that I have used in the past that have helped me to make huge gains in my health in my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation. Below you will find some additional and expanded strategies that I use and you can use to help you.

  1. Maintain life balance. This can be a challenge when you are going through major stress provoking times of your life.  Sometimes I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride when these major life stressors come my way. I have worked really hard to maintain life balance over the years and help clients and workshop participants to assess, restore and maintain life balance so that they are better prepared when the major life stressors come their way. You can learn about my life balance tools and workshops by clicking on the image below.  Board with
  2. Create a mantra.  This can help reprogram how your body and mind respond, gradually resetting your base ‘calm’ default. One of my mantras is ‘I chose to remain cool, calm and collected in the midst of stress, drama and the unexpected’.
  3. Use breathing. I recently started this practice again after a major life stressor. Inhaling to a count of ‘1,2,3’ while exhaling to a count of ‘1,2,3,4,5,6’ prompts the parasympathetic nervous system to slow your heart, putting on the brakes to prevent an out of control stress, fight or flight response. When at home I set my cell phone timer to remind me every hour to repeat the breathing sequence several times. When away I can ignore it when it goes off or take a few moments in my busy day to repeat the breathing sequence.
  4. Use imagery and visualization. Combined with the breathing sequences, imagery and visualization help engage my parasympathetic nervous system’s braking action, decreasing my stress hormones and ‘itchy’ sympathetic nervous system’s gas pedal response. Lily of the valley has been a favourite image for me since I was a child visiting my grandmother’s farm garden, and I use it as my ‘go to’ visual and sensory reset. The perfect little bell shaped flowers and calming aroma bring me back to my grandmother’s garden. I have a picture of the lily of the valley on my cell phone wallpaper. I use a variety of sensory essential oils to provide a calm reset.
  5. Incorporate Symphony of the Cells. Symphony of the Cells is an orchestrated application of therapeutic grade essential oils developed by Boyd Truman after 20 years of experience working on thousands of people with chronic and acute emotional and physical conditions. The professionally designed protocols combine the layering of specially selected essential oils with therapeutic properties which are applied in layers to the spine and feet and inhaled aromatically. The spine is an excellent application site since the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system travel along the spine and the spinal cord fluid can carry the therapeutic benefits up to the brain and central nervous system. Each protocol application provides an immediate relaxing and sometimes releasing impact with continued therapeutic benefits as the oils therapeutic properties reach the cellular level. I alternate the neurological, sensory and forgiveness protocols regularly since they can be helpful for managing stress, PTSD, emotional trauma, fear, anger, tension, hyperesthesia, anxiousness, OCD, mental fatigue, loneliness, self-doubt and grief. I highly recommend adding the Symphony of the Cells to your wellness plan. Come and see me for a one on one complimentary introduction and application to get started.  Attend or host a Symphony of the Cells workshop. Contact me at elisabethlhines@gmail.com  or my daughter Amanda Dumouchel @mamasandoils for more information.
  6. Prayer, gratitude, nature and quiet.  My daily companions to promote calm and keep me balanced.

Wishing you ‘cool, calm and collected’ living!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca,

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#stress #PTSD #emotionaltrauma #fear #anger  #tension  #hyperesthesia #anxiousness   #OCD  #mentalfatigue  #loneliness #selfdoubt #grief #fightorflight #posttraumaticstressdisorder #lifebalance #bloodsugarregulation

STRESS IDLING: A Modern Day Health Challenge

stress meter 2

Where does your stress meter hover? Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, it motivates – allowing you to achieve your goals. Ideally your HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis will correctly mount and return your body to its normal healthy shutdown point – allowing relaxation and healing on a regular basis. Being chronically stressed out and stress idling indicate that the body’s the stress response is flawed. This can lead to compromised body functions including a compromised immune response. A number or of factors, including interference, can modify normal stress responses. You may be suffering from a case of life imbalance which can really play havoc with your stress response. For more on assessing and restoring  your life balance read LIFE BALANCE: The Well-being Root – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=140. So what does a normal healthy stress response look like?

First, your body (brain/hypothalamus) makes a judgement whether a situation is stressful based on sensory input and processing (what your body sees, hears, senses) and stored memories (past stressful events and how your body responded).

Secondly, your body (HPA – hypothalamus to pituitary and adrenal medulla) mounts a stress response, ideally equivalent to the threat.

flightcartoon

Thirdly, the  HPA stress response ideally returns to its normal healthy shut down status, allowing ongoing relaxation and healing.  

Recent research carried out by Rachel Yehuda into the intergenerational effects of trauma reveals that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust have different stress hormone profiles than their peers; perhaps predisposing them to anxiety disorders and inability to cope with life’s stressors. If your family’s generational history reflects major past trauma you may have an altered stress hormone profile – possibly inadequate levels of cortisol, the hormone that allows the body to return to normal after trauma, and inadequate levels of the enzyme that breaks down cortisol. You may need more stress management strategies to maintain calm and balance and an ability to cope with life’s stressors. You can read more about the study in the March/April 2015 Scientific American Mind Magazine article Epigenetics: Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/descendants-of-holocaust-survivors-have-altered-stress-hormones/.

For information on how harmful chemicals, stress and other influences can permanently alter which genes are turned on without changing any of the genes’ code read:

The Case for Inheritance of Epigenetic Changes in Chromosomes by Michael K. Skinner – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-case-for-inheritance-of-epigenetic-changes-in-chromosomes/

Is your chronic inflammation caused by stress? How stress influences disease:

Study reveals inflammation as the culprit – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm

The following is an excerpt from my book THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION on the health impact of chronic stress and stress idling.

“Although a normal part of every person’s life, chronic or unmanaged stress in your personal life, caregiver stress[1] or stress resulting from your work[2]  can be detrimental to overall health. Understanding, monitoring and dealing with your body’s stress response is crucial to whole person well-being. The human stress response was designed to provide protection through the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in situations of grave danger. An appropriate amount of stress is a healthy and necessary part of life. In modern day, the stress response is kicking in on an ongoing basis due to accumulating psychological stressors. Although your car needs to idle at a certain rate to avoid stalling out; you can be hurt by a chronically idling stress response, which keeps you ‘ready to go, ready to run.’ In today’s culture of ‘I need it now,’ fast food, commuting, problem solving on the fly, climbing the work ladder, running the kids to and fro, technical devices, social platforms and juggling finances; it can be a challenge for your body to restore the stress response to its default stand-down position. During times of stress, energy is diverted from the parasympathetic to the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the ‘flight’ reaction.[3]  The parasympathetic nervous system strives to maintain homeostasis after periods of pain or stress by getting the body to relax. An idling stress response can take the leap into a full-blown fight or flight response during a crisis, with dire consequences. Even if a full ‘fight or flight’ response does not kick in, the chronic stress idling with its ongoing, harmful dose of hormones can have detrimental effects on health including stress sensitization. In his Psychology Today article, Stress – It Is Worse Than You Think, John Carpi highlights the harmful effects of chronic stress as well as how we can become sensitized to stress like a lobster coming to boil in a pot[4]. Stress sensitization can cloud perception, logical thinking and judgement, without your awareness.”

 

stresssymptoms

STRESS IS COMPLEX: Major life stressors are inescapable. I had to learn new strategies to manage them. This is an excellent video: How does stress affect your heart? Watch this 7 minute excerpt from the brilliant documentary “Statin Nation” as Dr. Paul Rosch explains. Follow this link: http://ow.ly/hY3AW,

“Any therapies or activities that promote calm and relaxation like deep breathing, meditation, visualization, yoga, tai chi and nature walks assist in shutting down the stress response and restoring homeostasis. Chronic stress can damage the parasympathetic nervous system so that deep breathing does not reset the stress response. Eliminating caffeine, which amplifies the stress response, is a must for those that run on adrenaline and other stress hormones. Various herbs and essential oils contain nervines[1] which enhance relaxation and restore the stress response back to its default stand-down position. See Rejuvenate, Self–Help Therapies & Tools, Stress Management on page 136 for stress-buster tools.” Excerpt from my book THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION.”

Essential oil therapy via a diffuser and reflexology points can greatly relief stress symptoms.

ESSENTIAL OIL THERAPY FOR SYMPTOM RELIEF: Skip Harmful Drug Side Effects For Healthy Longevity – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1380 and SYMPTOM RELIEF: How To Get To 100% Symptom Free Naturally – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1155. Contact me to get you started.

Chronic stress idling with it’s dose of stress hormones disrupts  your body’s overall hormone profiles. Unmanaged life, work, classroom and homework stress can cause chronic stress idling.

HPA disregulation is associated with depression.

HPA Axis Dysregulation

Body scan visualization #4 in THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION can help your body to restore your normal, healthy and accurate HPA stress response and shut down. 

Implementing strategies to restore and maintain life balance will help store a normal, healthy and accurate HPA stress response. Find out more by reading my blog post LIFE BALANCE: The Well-being Root

Affirmations can help to offset the negative affects of stress. The following affirmation is just one that I use with my clients that helps them to diffuse stress and anxiety about traumatic situations.  It acknowledges the situation, but diffuses or neutralizes any negative impact. Some clients were quite skeptical when I suggested they use it – thinking I was crazy that this could possibly help – but it did. Use this affirmation whenever you start to feel anxious or stressed or overwhelmed. 

Neutralizing Affirmation:

Although ‘A’ (situation, circumstances that are out of your control, and how you think or feel about them), I am okay, I will continue to be okay; and I will not allow ‘A’ (situation, circumstances) and my thoughts and feelings about ‘A’, to have a negative affect on me. 

Try this for a couple of weeks and send me an email when you get your results. It really works.  I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. . Venting, rehashing and reliving the past, and negative thinking will interfere with the power of affirmations and restoring and maintaining a normal, healthy stress response.. 
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P.

Holistic Wellness Practioner, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca elisabethlhines@gmail.com

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Copyright © 2013, Elisabeth Hines
All rights reserved. No portion of this post may be copied and distributed in any manner without the written permission of the author or publisher and associates.

 


[1] Christopher Hobbs, Lac, AHG, Herbal Nervines, healthy.net, www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=950, accessed April 29, 2012.

[1] Igor Grant, M.D., Caregiving may be hazardous to your health, ©1999, American Psychosomatic Society, http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/reprint/61/4/420.pdf , visited March 2007.

[3] Christopher Hobbs, Lac, AHG, Herbal Nervines, healthy.net, www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=950, accessed April 29, 2012.

[4] John Carpi, Psychology Today, Stress – It Is Worse Than You Think, published on January 01, 1996, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199601/stress-its-worse-you-think, visited March 2007.

Images – Google images