Controlling Anxiety: How the Fight or Flight System Works

meditation-man-sitting-on-rocksWhen you are ‘hyped up’ or anxious about something, your flight or fight system is activated. This is great if you are running from a lion. Your heart rate is up, your muscles are ready for action, you are breathing faster and your mind is hyper aware of one thing: avoiding the Lion!

While this may work in the Serengeti, it’s not as effective when giving a presentation! During a presentation you may notice that your mouth is dry, your heart is beating out of your chest, you are short of breath and - since there is no lion - you are focusing on the fact that you may lose your job over such a lousy presentation! Controlling anxiety may seem impossible.

The ‘flight or fight’ system is an emergency circuit where incoming information is funneled directly to the Amygdala (The flight or fight center) and bypasses the thought centers where information is usually refined. The information then travels from the Amygdala to the centers that handle the different aspects of the body’s flight or fight reactions. This involves emergent thought centers, sympathetic centers and other hormonal centers.

The ‘all clear’ signal is sent by two major centers. The thought center notices - No lion! - and sends signals to the Amygdala to relax. This cools the emergency circuit so that all new incoming information is directed to the thought centers first, thus refining all information again. Hormonally, cortisol is generated to provide blood sugar for muscle cells. With the all clear, this same elevated cortisol level goes back to the brain and completes a ‘feedback loop’, which acts as a break for further hormone production.

An Effective System for Controlling Anxiety

So what can you do to refine this response and relax during your presentation? You want more control over when this kind of system activates. You want it to be there when you need it and to leave as quickly as it presented, you know, like “Bond, James Bond.” For most of your life you want this system to stay in the scanning mode and definitely in the off position! This is the key to controlling anxiety.

So let’s talk about strategy:

  1. Remaining calm, cool and collected in general. Anything that decreases the stress on the body keeps cortisol levels down. This allows the ‘breaking function’ of cortisol to work. Otherwise, if cortisol is chronically high, it does work as a break for the flight or fight system.
    1. Eating a healthy meal, basically something akin to a Mediterranean diet.
    2. Allows for the body to maintain balance of proteins, electrolytes, glucose, cholesterol, omega fatty acids, vitamins, absorption and elimination with minimal stress.
    3. Exercising daily
      1. Promotes nerve growth factor production throughout the brain.
      2. Allows more body awareness and this helps conscious- subconscious alignment which promotes non-emergent thought processing.
    4. Hydration
      1. You, like most of us, are likely chronically dehydrated. This is particularly true if you drink carbonated beverages. This is a major stress on the body and raises cortisol levels chronically. This can feel some-what flu like with primarily a lack of energy.
      2. The body gets confused when you are dehydrated and makes you feel hungry. You eat more…and that destroys your diet, waistline and body alignment. The hunger isn’t healthy hunger and so the attraction to food is generally carb focused.
    5. Sleep hygiene
      1. The body needs rest but it also needs 4-7 periods of REM sleep each night. This is the only time that Serotonin, Norepinephrine and Dopamine neurons get a little rest.
      2. The body works on a circadian cycle. This is particularly true for cortisol. Without routine sleep the cortisol changes thought the day flatten and again the body’s healthy response to cortisol falters.
  2. Improved general information processing
    1. When conscious and subconscious mind are aligned all mind body communication is improved. Every aspect of cellular and circuit function is improved. Information processing becomes faster, more inclusive and with practice…more enduring.
      1. The Oneness approach to each moment of the day provides such a consistent approach.
    2. Capturing what helps you stay aligned at the end of the day.
      1. Helps you develop increased self-awareness all day.
      2. Helps you to notice what works for you so you can continue to refine it.
    3. Dealing with specific anxiety producing states.
      1. Work through any emotional blocks that may be coming up for you during this activity.
        1. When and where have you felt this way before?
        2. When are you doing something equally strenuous but don’t have such anxiety?
      2. Work on specific meditation techniques that center you during this activity.
      3. Routinize the activity so your conscious and unconscious mind can feel it easier to practiced being aligned during the activity.
      4. Videotape yourself so that you have accurate perceptions around the activity.
      5. Get coaching to provide even more support and expertise.
      6. Get involved with friends or a group to provide you even more support.

The more you center spiritually in all you do the easier this will become as you are always practicing being you. The feeling of ‘being you’ becomes larger and all other processes fall in line. The more you include additional supports the more support you receive informationally and directly through mirror neurons. Lastly, with each practice you are also building a sense of self worth.

The greatest believer in you must be you! Believe in who you are and your emergent system can defend you…because you are worth it!

If you feel that anxiety is affecting your public speaking ability or even your day to day life? Do you struggle, feeling overwhelmed by seemingly small things? Whether you have long struggled or only recently have sensed that something is wrong, we understand the challenges you are facing. In fact, we have developed a program just for you. Register today as a Patient of Oneness and begin your journey to believing in yourself.

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