The Zone - Volume 107
How comfortable are you re-engaging with family, work, and community?
We are hearing about individuals struggling with various levels of uncertainty and anxiety as they return to family gatherings, the workplace and community functions. These feelings can sometimes be a bit paralyzing and, if not addressed, they can lead to increased distress and discomfort, physically and mentally. The body has one basic response when our mind perceives something as stressful or frightening. This is known as the fight or flight response, and it may be triggered many times throughout the day. This response is part of the survival mechanism that we are born with. In prehistoric times, this automatic response was necessary for survival when individuals could be confronted by a wild animal. You would either run or fight the adversary depending on your own abilities and the level of danger one was confronted with. In todays world this same response occurs when we perceive our attacker as a lost phone, or a slow driver in front of us, or new colleagues, unfamiliar locations, or anything that we perceive as uncomfortable or unknown. This response is autonomic, so how do we cancel the alarm in our minds?
A key element in addressing stress and anxiety is to better understand the purpose and function of the fight or flight response. Understand that the body normally goes through a series of changes during the response and that our minds also experience changes in our thinking and perceptions. This level of knowledge and insight can offer hope that this is normal and that rather than seeing the response as the enemy, we explore why we have the survival mechanism and how useful it can be. For example, individuals who suffer from panic attacks, might mis-perceive the fight or flight response as impending doom, such as a heart attack, because of their hypersensitivity to bodily sensations. By understanding that the fight or flight response is a normal beneficial reaction, one can better determine if they may or may not be in harm’s way. This new understanding of their body and mind and how they function can offer much needed relief.
Ways to Minimize the Fight or Flight Response
Regular exercise, yoga, sports.
Eat well, stay hydrated, minimize caffeine and alcohol intake.
Practice mindfulness techniques.
Counseling with a licensed professional.
Positive self-talk techniques.
Positive mental imagery techniques.
The fight or fight response is essential for human survival.
Re-engagement can cause anxiety and stress.
Understanding how our bodies and minds work, can give us back control of our response to everyday issues.
Take time to practice useful anxiety reduction techniques.
Look forward to once again being with loved friends and family.
Make the unknown, known.
Things to Limit
Worrying. Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives us something to do but gets us nowhere.
All or nothing thinking,
Drowning your sorrows.
Quote of the Week
“I just give myself permission to suck…I find this hugely liberating.”
In summary, knowing and understanding our bodies and minds are essential skills when we are re-engaging with our lives. Isolation and fear are difficult adversaries; however, they can be dealt with very effectively.
If you are not sure of how to move forward with some of these techniques, please feel free to reach out to us.
Photo by Andreas Haslinger on Unsplash
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
We have developed "The ZONE", because that is exactly where you want to be during this pandemic. A place of focused attention to doing exactly what needs to be done to get you to where you need to be. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a nationally distributed weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.
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