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  • Writer's pictureJurga Bliss


The Fight-Flight response is a normal and beneficial physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived threat. This response of our nervous system is geared towards survival. It is a protective energy that tells us: "What is happening is not safe! We need to move! Let's fight this or run away into safety!"

When our autonomic (i.e. involuntary) nervous system perceives (neuroceives) that something is not safe, it acts immediately. We do not decide to get into Fight-Flight (nor Freeze or Collapse). Our nervous system decides for us.

This adaptive response is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is a branch of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for controlling the body's involuntary functions, such as heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

When the fight-flight response is activated, the sympathetic nervous system releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause a number of physiological changes, including:

• Increased heart rate

• Increased breathing rate

• Increased blood pressure

• Dilated pupils

• Increased blood flow to the muscles

• Decreased blood flow to the digestive system and other non-essential organs

These changes prepare the body to either fight or flee the perceived threat. If the person chooses to fight, the increased heart rate and blood pressure provide them with the extra energy and strength they need. If the person chooses to flee, the increased breathing rate and blood flow to the muscles help them to run faster and longer.

When our system functions well, we get agitated and act in the face of danger and then manage to come back to a regulated and calm state when it passes. However, with continuous stress of our modern lives, trauma, lack of resources and other challenges, we may end up in chronic dysregulation and a state of constant alert.

If the fight-flight response is chronically activated, continuous flow of adrenaline and cortisol in our bloodstream may result in digestive issues (e.g. IBS), insomnia, migraines, muscle pains, tension and rigidity, and etc.

In order for our nervous system to regain it's natural ability to efficently adapt to ever changing demands of everyday life, we may choose to develop healthy habits (e.g. adequate sleep, being physically active, spend time outdoors, take care of nutrition, etc.) as well as learn and apply various practices and techniques to help balance our body and mind and reinstate a sense of calm.

Polyvagal exercises and somatic practices that I teach in my classes are down to earth, simple, time-efficient tools that are proven again and again to help to "oil" your nervous system, so that it switches it's gears from high to low - from activity to relaxation - and back more smoothly and seamlessly.

Come and try yourself in group practices or individual sessions!

Group sessions happen on Thursdays in English in Lagos, Portugal and online - in Lithuanian on Wednesdays.

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