Stress Enlightenment week 3 - Combating your fight or flight response


fight or flight, image of boxing gloves

From weeks one and two we know that there are healthy levels of stress, and mechanisms to help you diagnose stress BUT what can you do when the pressure gets too much? This week we explore common methods for combating your fight or flight response and reducing stress:

  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Pet Therapy

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What is the fight or flight response? watch our video for a quick overview


Even though the human race has evolved over the years, our basic instincts have remained the same. In times of stress our body still responds as it always has, perceiving the cause of the stress as a threat to survival. And its natural instinct is to fight it or run away from it - the **“FIGHT OR FLIGHT”** response.
Your body doesn’t make any distinction between physical or psychological threats – negative feelings like anger, frustration, worry and impatience and everyday hassles like having an argument, sitting in a traffic jam or just being given a mountain of work to do can all trigger this ‘fight or flight’ response.
The fight or flight response is the natural reaction to anything that makes you feel threatened or upsets your balance in any way, preparing you physically and psychologically to fight or run, protecting you, making you more focused and alert and giving you extra strength to help you defend yourself or run faster. It also helps you meet challenges and achieve peak performance.It can help you think more clearly.


The fight or flight response triggers a state of heightened awareness:

  • A surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones pump through our body which effectively helps us either run away or fight!
  • Our impulses quicken
  • Our respiratory rate increases
  • Blood is shunted away from our digestive system and redirected into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting
  • We scan and search our environment, 'looking for the enemy'
  • Our pupils dilate
  • Our awareness intensifies
  • Our sight sharpens

Fighting or fleeing would then use up, or metabolise, the adrenaline. If this doesn’t happen the adrenaline stays in our body until it slowly disperses.

Our body needs some way of getting rid of it quickly; punching the boss would be one way of doing this, even though it might bring temporary relief, it‘s not a great career move. And it’s not usually a great idea to run away from the boss either!

These days, once our fight or flight response is activated we can’t do much about it, we can’t fight, we can’t run, we have to control it.

We have to sit in traffic.

We have to stand in the queue.

We have to get on with it.

And if another stressful event occurs the problem becomes compounded, more and more stress building up on itself BUT if we do stay calm, relax and sit quietly the adrenaline will eventually dissipate naturally. Hence, why we are completing a Stress Awareness Month.