When we are afraid or feel sufficiently threatened, a 'fight or flight' phenomenon is triggered. The subconscious mind, the instigator of this defence reflex, does not differentiate between physical situation and an imaginary one and reacts as strongly to either one of them.
Thus, under threat (real or not), the mind will activate a host of physiological reactions in an effort to respond to the demands of the emergency. At that point, the mind recognizes an increased need of energy and oxygen in order to prepare the body for action. It then forces the endocrine system to launch a rush of adrenaline into the body (via the bloodstream) in order to trigger the 'fight or flight' defence reaction. Under the influence of the powerful adrenaline rush, the heartbeat accelerates and breathing increases in order to heighten the supply of oxygen to the muscles as they prepare for action, the hands and legs may become shaky and the body begins to perspire.
Our bodies requires a certain amount of energy to function. An important factor in the 'fight or fight' reaction is that when a specific part of the body suddenly needs more energy to respond to an emergency situation, it will momentarily borrow this energy from a less needy system. For example, if it borrows energy from the digestive system, then this system will be slowed down considerably. That is why when you are in a stressful situation or in an argument with someone, your stomach could become upset and you may not feel like eating.
For instane, let's imagine a real life situation. As you walk along leisurely, a large dog suddenly appears and menaces you. Instanteously, the system triggers an alert (your heartbeat and breathing accelerate, your legs become wobbly), while you rapidly evaluate the situation; "Should I stay and fight or should I flee"? Eventually, whatever you decide, the situation will resolve itself and the body will return to normal.
But what about an imaginary situation? In this instance, the subconscious mind will not try to determine if the moment is real or not and will react automatically by triggering a 'fight or flight' reaction. Nevertheless, it is not simple here, as imaginary stresses tend to be related to negative life events and are not easily resolved in the short term. As a result, the 'fight or flight' reaction is maintained permanently and the overtaxed body will exhaust itself. It is in this stage that managing stress properly becomes necessary.
Next: first breathing exercise.
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