fight flight

Like all mammals, our brain is hardwired with the ability to shift into ’emergency mode’.

Consider a cheetah hunting for antelope. The cheetah needs to boost performance in order to catch food. If not then he’ll starve. Likewise, the antelope must boost performance in order to escape.

The body makes temporary changes for maximum performance.

  • The heart and lungs jump into action for maximum performance.
  • The blood leaving the heart find the arteries constricted in order to increase blood pressure.
  • The veins open out to ease blood returning to the heart. 
  • Blood-glucose level increases and muscles tense up
  • The adrenal glands release hormones such as cortisol
  • Blood vessels close to the skin constrict to reduce the potential blood loss in the event of injury. (she was so stressed, her face went white)
  • As we get ready to fight or run, energy is conserved and rerouted. Non-essential activities such as digestion and the immune system temporarily shut down.

All of these body changes give the best performance during fight or flight. If a tiger is trying to eat me, I’m glad that these changes take place including shutting down the immune system. If I get the flue but become the tiger’s dinner, as far as I’m concerned, that’s his problem!


After the fight or flight situation passes, the cheetah and the antelope ‘recharge their batteries’. The antelope will recoup by grazing peacefully or the cheetah will recharge by dining on antelope. These fight or flight body changes are temporary. (at least they’re supposed to be)

Humans are having a tougher time recuperating from fight of flight. We optimise our performance and tailor our body for the situation. We have a certain amount of energy. During fight or flight, we expel that energy at a faster rate than normal. Therefore we have to replenish our ‘energy stores’. We do so by sleeping and digesting food. Both of these activities are difficult to do when stressed. Think of our energy stores as a bank. Withdrawing more money than deposing will lead to financial strife. By the same token, withdrawing more energy than you deposit will give you chronic fatigue syndrome!

To make matters worse, the television business is very competitive. The shows that survive are the ones that can raise your emotion the highest for the longest amount of time!  


This isn’t a small problem. It can be HUGE! Just as with finances, a person can become so far in debt that it takes many years to recover. Chronic Fatigue can be the same! How long it takes to get out of ‘energy debt’ depends upon:

  • How deep is the debt
  • How much or how little your efforts are on trying to get out of debt


Sleeping and digestion disorders are on the upswing. While this problem is well known, the solution isn’t so easy. That’s the problem. We live in the age of email and two-minute noodles. We want it NOW. If the solution can’t be obtained quickly then we can’t be bothered. Small wonder why the sales of high-energy drinks are going through the roof!

This is why I wrote this blog. All pages talk about the brain and how it can become our own worst enemy! (Actually, I started when I learned that I was my own worst enemy) I can’t offer a quick solution. However, I can make the problem easier to understand. Even my pages on bureaucracy are about this. We’ve all experience the stupidity of bureaucracy and have felt the results of mechanical thinking. (non-thinking) Our own brain has a non-thinking part in it.

The cerebellum makes our heartbeat and lungs breathe. It handles more jobs than this as well. When you first learned how to drive a car, there were a lot of things for you to think about. As you practice, your cerebellum constructed millions of automatic programs for driving so that you will eventually be able to drive without even thinking! Automatic thinking can be very useful. However (as with bureaucracy) it can get out of control! For example, if you’re a drama junky, your fight or flight trigger can become too sensitive. Your defensive, caution, mistrust, and fear programs can build up so much that you can become as high strung as a ferret on crack! (and no fun to be around) Refer to my page on practice. You can also make an automatic program of negative self-talk. (“I’m such a loser”) These programs can start running 24/7 in your subconscious!

Back to the problem of sleep and digestion. This has become such an epidemic that some people are considering these problems to be as normal as getting grey hair. Still, many others are not willing to put in the effort or even think it’s possible to rectify this problem. This big demand makes a great sales opportunity! There’s an enormous amount of misinformation out there. Lots of products can be sold by providing anti-stress solutions.

I don’t claim that this blog has all the answers. However, I do point out the most effective anti-stress technique that I know of. It’s on this page. 

Self-reflecting is free and it won’t take up any of your time. It’s not quick so that’s the drawback. This is especially true because as stress increases so does the desire to dive into your own little world. As a result, the ability to learn something new by listening to outside advice is diminishing. In other words, the attention span takes a beating.

Reducing stress will greatly help sleep and digestion. As I said, it’s not a quick answer. 

There’s a wealth of information on how stress can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. However, the college of stress reducing advice is all over the place. It can be:

  • impractical
  • vague
  • sales slogans designed to sell anti-stress products
  • Much of the advice tells you to reduce your exposure to stressful situations that are out of your control. (unless you buy our product)

Looking at the above list, it’s no wonder why many people put ‘stress’ in the same category as global warming. They feel, “There’s nothing that I can do about it”!

Actually, you can do something about it. Self-reflection is one of the few things that you do have 100% control over. However, I must first warn you that it’s not a quick fix. It’s difficult to do. This difficult feeling is like combining the adversity of physical exhaustion and learning something very complex.  This is greatly compounded because most can’t comprehend how they’ll benefit from it. ‘ Why go through all this effort? I don’t see how it’ll work?’

Self-Reflecting is described on this page.  It’s difficult and the results are slow. However, I haven’t found a sure fire way that’s any faster. If you find one, please contact me. I’d love to know what it is.

Wellcome to On My Soapboxx