These days we are living in a fast paced society – a system that is ordered, structured and time bound. Such a society is not necessarily harmonious with our natural state of being that seeks not to be bound but to naturally flow and create in the present moment. Modern society is characteristic of technology overload, long working hours, high impact exercise programs, high media coverage of negative world events and deadlines. Our bodies were not designed for such a fast paced and fear based society and this can invoke a natural state of fight/flight survival response.
Cortisol and Adrenalin are great for running away from a Saber Toothed Tiger but what about for everyday living?
Our body’s initial response to a stressor is the release of adrenalin however if the stressor is not removed from our life then our body starts releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol and Adrenaline are great hormones to have on our side, say if you were being chased by a Saber Tooted Tiger and needed to run for your life. These hormones are favorable when produced over a short period of time in the face of immediate danger.
For example these hormones will send our blood away from our vital organs to our extremities such as our arms and legs to get them ready to run or fight, it will slow down our digestive system (no time to digest when you are trying to run!), cause us to crave more easily digestible and quick energy source foods such as simple carbohydrates and sugars and it will suppress our immune system, decreasing inflammation and our ability to heal (no time to heal or feel pain when you are trying to run for your life!). Unlike the situation with the Saber Toothed tiger whereby our stress response ceases once we have escaped the tiger, our fast paced modern society puts us in a state of ongoing stress and flight/flight mode.
Here are some suggestions to help you break the cycle:
1. Restorative rather than high impact exercise such as yoga or Qi Gong.
2. Get Creative. Try painting, dancing around the living room, drawing, writing or gardening (my favorite!) - anything that lets your mind wander and dream a little.
3. Meditate, breathe more, dream a little (or a lot)
4. Listen to that inner voice – what is it calling for you to act on? What are you ignoring? Are you acting on your passion in each and every moment?
5. Stop for a moment and ask yourself- are you putting yourself first – are you really living for yourself?
6. Get out into nature (away from traffic jams, mobile phones, wi-fi and commercial news programs)
7. Love someone or something deeply and with your whole being
8. Remember most importantly, stress does not arise from your environment, but rather stress comes from HOW you interpret and respond to your environment.
So what are some signs that you may be living life in flight/fight mode?
1. Regular backache, muscular pains and headaches
2. Disturbed sleeping patterns
3. Gaining Weight (especially around the tummy and hips) even when eating well and exercising regularly
4. Repetitive colds and flus
5. Sugar cravings
6. Low/ Null and Void Sex Drive
7. Gut discomfort
8. Feelings of anxiety
9. Feelings of sadness
If you ticked a couple of these then you are likely to be living a cortisol addition pattern.