When we are confronted with anxious or worrisome events our bodies react differently than when faced with a normal situation. This causes the fight or flight response to naturally respond. Some people automatically go into fight mode. A majority of us respond with flight and the mental repercussion is transformed into anxiety and stress. And when we go into flight mode all the blood rushes out of our brain and into our limps so we can run away, meaning we are not thinking our most effectively.
One ‘funny not funny’ example of this in action. Think about a time with a toddler got startled and after the wide-eyed expression on their face made you crack up … often times they would literally run/toddle away and then do a direct faceplant into the wall or fall flat on their faces. They were in full flight mode, and their little brains were not able to see the object that was right in front of them.
One was to shift from direct reaction toward intentional response is to start with an easier and smaller change. Instead, we can shift from reacting with our flight mode or reacting with our fight mode.
Listed below are some ways the body reacts to anxiety. We can take these flight responses and turn them into positive fight actions. This response will help us to shift stress and anxiety into beneficial results while we work toward our ultimate intention which is to move intentionally to responding vs. reacting out of fear, anxiety, or worry.
When we get nervous or anxious our body tends to start sweating. This is one way the body is preparing to fight or flee. Sweating is the process that our body uses to cool itself down. Most people would be thinking oh no I am starting to sweat and showing fear.
- Why not retrain your way of thinking about this body reaction as a positive sign. A sign that my body is warming up for whatever my life throws at me. And that it is sweating to keep me cool and in control of any situation. Turn the old saying of sweating under pressure to sweating to manage the pressure.
Sweating is an obvious physical reaction that you can now use as a trigger to pause for a moment to consider if you are reacting out of fear and anxiety or is there a new way you might want to respond that is more in line with your objectives.
Increased Heart Rate
Another way our bodies react to a perceived threat is to release the hormone epinephrine. The brain perceives a threat and releases epinephrine into the bloodstream which increases the heart rate. The increase in heart rate also increases circulation.
This increase in circulation sends more blood to parts of the body that need it. The body parts are primed, so they are ready to act when threatened.
- Instead of perceiving something negative is about to occur why not put a positive spin on it. You can mentally tell yourself that you can feel comfortable knowing that your body’s defense against stress is functioning well and is capable of producing a burst of strength and energy when you need it for life’s difficult tasks.
As with sweating, this is an opportunity to consider the physiological trigger as a signal to respond is a new way. Perhaps you decide you don’t want an elevated heart rate, so you chose to meditate or take a few deep diaphragmatic beaths to reset your heart rate a bit. Speaking of Breath …
Shortness of Breath
When your body perceives danger or anxiety the nerves around the rib cage and torso respond by tightening up. This tight feeling in your chest causes you to feel short of breath.
- Instead of feeling panicked from the shortness of breath turn it into a positive affirmation. Think of it as your body’s way of getting the extra oxygen it needs to function. This increase in oxygen is going to strengthen your muscles and brain to allow you to think more clearly and react more swiftly. This increased mental focus and strength can help you deal with any problems.
You might even use this as a sign to lengthen your breath. There is a ton of research that shows deep and mindful breathing can help calm your mind and body. So if the change in mindset isn’t serving you, consider changing your physiology.
One final bodily action when stressed is dry mouth. When you are stressed, or anxious fluid is rerouted from nonessential areas of the body such as the mouth. This fluid reversion leads to dryness and difficulty speaking. Reassure yourself that the essential body parts will get the proper amount of fluid so that they function effectively under stress.
This shift in the fluid also primes the body to take action in high-stress environments. If all else fails grab a glass of water. Your body may be internally trying to flee but you can train your brain to fight for a positive outcome.
Anxiety is s signal that we are faced with challenges. Instead of listening to the voice inside that says: “oh no, panic” let’s quiet that voice and instead change the dialogue to empowerment and planning how we will face those challenges.
By refocusing our thoughts and mind from thinking negative thoughts about fearful situations, we can change these thoughts into positive action. It is all about how you mentally perceive the stress and turn it into your advantage. This mental advantage you give yourself will help you conquer any stress, anxiety, or stressful situation life can bring.
Until next time.
Coach Jackie Out!
P.S. If you want to chat about possible ways to cope with your anxious thoughts, book a complimentary coaching session with me at https://calendly.com/jackieschwabe/coachsession
P.P.S. If you still need more support in processing your emotions, I put together a Process Your Emotions workbook. It helps you journal your way of processing your emotions. It’s FREE, get your copy here https://jackieschwabe.com/product/process-your-emotions/