In the last edition I talked about the cascade of events that happens when the Sympathetic Nervous System kicks in with Fight or Flight Response – how it’s like stomping on the accelerator of your car. I also mentioned how the Parasympathetic Nervous System cuts in to help calm everything down once the danger, or perceived danger, has passed.
What I want to talk about today is what happens when we keep getting triggered and the parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t get a chance to apply the brake!
Basically, the sh*^ hits the fan! If, for whatever reason, we don’t realise that there really isn’t anything dangerous going on, something called the HPA Axis kicks in. The Hypothalamus get back into the picture and notifies the Pituitary gland which lets the Adrenals know they need to release cortisol into our system. That means we keep our foot on the gas pedal and our body stays ramped up for action. And it pretty much stays that way until we can work out that the danger is passed. When the all-clear happens, the adrenals stop producing cortisol and as that fades away we can relax again.
In modern day society, we are not likely to meet a sabre-toothed tiger. Our FFR is far more likely to be the result of someone’s dodgy driving and even that can be fairly short term. If FFR is something that happens every now and then and only lasts about 15 minutes – there’s no real problem, but we LIVE in FFR. We rarely, if ever, allow that cortisol to fade away and fully relax. Our FFR triggers are so commonplace that we accept them as a way of life – money worries, kids, spouse, the electricity bill, the boss getting on our case, being unemployed, menopause, empty nest, retiring, chronic pain. The list is on-going. I’m sure you can think up some more. And, even more disturbing we voluntarily put ourselves in FFR through the things we watch on TV – movies, news – and the bun-fights we get into on social media. Then, when you include the pressure we put on each other and ourselves to conform to a certain ideal…. Too tall / too short; too thin / too fat; growing older, struggling with diets and disliking the view in the mirror. We have been programmed to live in the FFR. For sure, it’s a mild version but it is still scary in it’s implications for our health.
And that my friends is the next topic before we really look at what we can do about it.
Are you still breathing? Three deep breaths remember ❤
Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Here’s the links….