Thursday, January 18, 2024

Fight or Flight: Is Not Meant to be a Lifestyle

I’m sure by now you have heard the term Fight or Flight - if not, it is the body’s automatic response to stressful situations, it is our nervous system’s way to keep us safe. Think caveman days, do I stay and fight, or do I run away?

There are two sides to our autonomic nervous system: Sympathetic (fight or flight) and Parasympathetic (rest and digest).

Harvard Med has a great article describing the sympathetic state being like the gas pedal of a car, and the parasympathetic state is like the break.

Being in the sympathetic state is supposed to be for urgent situations - as in you see a threat, you react - did you know your nervous system starts reacting before your brain fully recognizes the threat? 

It sends hormones out like adrenaline and cortisol to get us fired up and ready. Then after the threat passes, our parasympathetic state kicks in to help us rest & digest (recover).

Living with chronic pain and/or in fear of falling (like so many with Lipedema, and other chronic illnesses do) means you are living in the fight or flight state.

Our bodies are not made to live like that.  So it becomes really important to seek ways to get our bodies into a parasympathetic state. 

Did you know humming is a great way to do this? It is wonderful for vagus nerve stimulation.

Other things to try are moving (leisurely walking in nature, restorative yoga, stretching, etc.), yawning, laughing, singing, deep breathing, even hugging - think about it, doing relaxing things is going to send signals to your body that you are safe. 

AND if you are in a parasympathetic state your body produces less inflammation! Always a goal when living with chronic illnesses.