Do you suffer from any of the following?
Tight shoulders and neck muscles?
Regular headaches that worsen as the day progresses?
Do you feel cold?
Do you feel tired?
Do you have dry skin, brittle nails and does your hair fall out?
Are you experiencing digestive issues and/or hormonal issues?
Are you sensitive to light or sound?
Due to a series of built-in triggers, the brain knows when it needs to activate the fight or flight survival mechanism. It’s called the Sympathetic Nervous System and we’ve known for a long time that it exists. When it activates, it suppresses your digestive system, reproductive system, immune system and the repair functions of the body.
Under normal circumstances, the Sympathetic Nervous System activates in response to extreme physical, cognitive or emotional stress. This is useful as it allows our body to adapt to situations and ensures we have enough fuel for the crisis. Medical science has led to a relatively clear understanding of the reactions in the body in these situations.
What we haven’t explored in depth is what happens when this survival mechanism stays switched on or fired up for extended periods of time. This is when our body’s hardwired stress responses cross out of ‘normal circumstance’ where they are helpful, to a scenario in which prolonged physiological change can actually cause harm.
Modern life doesn’t improve this scenario. We leave demanding jobs and arrive home with financial stress sitting like heavy weights on our shoulders. We wake up with a to-do list as long as our arm. We go to bed knowing the same will wait for us the next day. Some of us have businesses, noisy or demanding family lives. Others have illnesses or sick loved ones that we worry over.
We lie awake at night worrying about mortgages, exams, interviews, relationships, and the list goes on. Typically, we don’t think of these things when we think of fight or flight. But they represent only a handful of issues that can activate the survival mechanism and keep it activated.
The rest of the list may surprise you. It includes the constant barrage of light and noise we deal with, the poor posture we often engage in when we spend hours looking down at our laptops and handheld devices, and the simple fact that many of us are living life in a‘wound up’ state.
It’s called Sympathetic Dominance. It comes from a part of your brain that is so deep that it’s primal and automatic.