A Lesser Known Reaction
Many people have heard the phrase, “Fight or Flight” regarding someone’s reaction to danger. It’s the body’s natural stress response that helps you react to perceived threats as appropriate. Fight or Flight is an active defense where you either stay in the situation or you leave the situation. However, there is a third reaction that is not often mentioned called “Freeze”, which is simply Fight or Flight on hold. This state is also called reactive immobility.
All three are perfectly normal reactions and it’s important to know that when faced with fear, your reaction is not a conscious decision. Also, important to know is that these reactive feelings are heightened by trauma and anxiety. Though why should I write a blog about it, right?
My Early Reaction
I realized one night in early June that I had become emotionally paralyzed with everything going on in the world around me. I know this scenario was heightened via the internet, especially through social media where there was no way to take a break from the incessant images of violence and anger. Deep inside I had so much to say – so many things I could have and/or would have done – though couldn’t. At some point I judged myself for freezing, especially since I had friends who were actively “fighting the good fight” in their various ways.
Reactions are Triggered by Fear
The following few key things are what I had to remember to move forward… First – we all experience and react to “battles” differently – including what constitutes or defines a “battle”. Do your best to not compare yourself with others, especially since it would most often be an apples to oranges comparison. Second – our reactions are triggered by psychological fear. Remember that fear is conditioned based on the association we give it. Try to identify those fears and work through the process of addressing and diminishing them – remove their power over you. Third – freezing is a perfectly acceptable reaction which allows you time to better prepare for the next move. Knowing these things can be beneficial in managing our mental response to scenarios around us.
Manage Your Reactions
We are facing various forms of adversity in our world every day. Granted, we often don’t have control over many of the external scenarios around us, but we can learn to acknowledge and to better understand our mental response. By learning and practicing healthy coping skills, we’ll also be more successful in managing our reactions. There are many coping skills that are beneficial in various aspects of life – and Steve references some in his Voiceover Classes because they are such great techniques and tools for your toolbox!
Coping Skills for Healthier Reactions
Some healthy coping skills include relaxation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing, visualizing peaceful images, meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Being physically active is also beneficial because regular exercise decreases stress hormones, increases endorphins, improves general calmness, and promotes better sleep. When done on a regular basis, these techniques can improve your natural reactions to stress. It is also important to nurture healthy social relationships because doing so provides a sense of safety and protection, gives you a sense of belonging, and makes you less fearful overall.
Be Extra Kind
Especially now, emotions are heightened everywhere, so be extra kind to others – though remember to also be extra kind to yourself. Try your best to not dwell on the negative. Instead, try to do some of the things that activate your heart space and make you happy (even if it’s hard to get started at first). Ultimately, I broke the cycle and found my way out of my freeze through writing poetry. Though I’ve also been trying to get better at meditation so I can more easily manage my initial stress reactions. We all have our own journey – so whatever works best for you – I hope your toolbox is filled with knowledge, techniques, inspiration, and various coping skills that allow you to navigate around this current climate in a successful and positive way. Continue to lead with light, love, and positivity!