You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” reflex. When you’re presented with an emergency situation – being chased by a wild animal or (more realistic in our society) being cut off in traffic – your nervous system enters a mode that triggers certain responses in your body that make you more able to deal with the emergency. As an example of this, blood gets diverted to your extremities so you can run faster. And basically, you’re confronted with an opportunity to make a big decision: Do you stay and fight whatever it is that’s causing the emergency, or do you run away from it?
There’s a third option that has, historically, gotten less press. When confronted with this big opportunity, you might just freeze. It’s like your brain is “buffering” all the options. You neither fight nor flee – you stay put. Start monitoring yourself in the acute high-stress situations you face. You’ll be surprised to see how often you just freeze.
In addition to the physiologic responses your body creates to all this stress, it also creates a situation where trauma lodges in the body. If you think of a situation that has caused you trauma in the past, and then you sit quietly with your body, you will be able to feel where that sits in your body. You will feel your hands or arms or feet vibrate, or hurt, or change temperature. If this is you, I can recommend some excellent therapists who can help you work your trauma out of your body.
I am pleased to report that at the end of August, I will be learning more about trauma and its effects on the body, and ways that I can help alleviate it as a massage therapist and Reiki master. In the meantime, if you’re suffering through the fight-flight-freeze cycle, get help and bring your body back to normal.
Be well, healthy, and whole!