STRESS AND THE FIGHT/FLIGHT
by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Daily living — your job — traffic —
your house — your relationships — the
kids — the evening news — the latest
tax increase — rock music — constant
noise — chemicals in the air and our foods
— worry about what tomorrow will bring…sensory
These problems are constants in many lives. There
was a time when a body was stressed and then had
time to recover before the next big event. Our
bodies were built to take stress and they are
wonderfully equipped to recover. Our bodies and
minds were designed to work together to keep us
alive and well. When danger is perceived, we automatically
react to protect ourselves. We are fueled with
chemicals that cause blood pressure, heart rate,
metabolism, muscle tension and breathing rate
all to increase. This happens automatically. These
reactions form the well know fight/flight response.
When the danger is past, our bodies and minds
return to a normal state of alertness.
What happens when the stress does not let up
though, when you go from one stressful situation
to another without the recovery time? Without
recovery time the body and mind will eventually
call a halt in one way or another; through illness,
reduced ability to concentrate, angry outbursts,
or burnout. Stress is a leading cause of disease;
heart, intestinal, digestive, mental and respiratory.
Stress has been implicated in what are called
immune deficiency disorders such as rheumatoid
arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well
as the more familiar diseases such as ulcers,
colitis, depression, and hypertension.
What are the answers? What should you do? Quit
your job? Move to the country? These are not options
for most of you. Even if you did have enough money
to leave, you have commitments and relationships.
Instead of leaving your life, start building stress
recovery periods into your daily routines. These
recovery periods can help you jump start the relaxation
process enabling your body and mind to work together
to heal and recover from life’s constant
onslaughts. You can start counteracting the effects
of your body’s automatic stress responses.
You can start this process with intentional
Where should you begin? Begin with the basics.
The series of instructions available in this book
will guide you through several basic procedures
that will help you begin the healing process.
None of the techniques introduced require the
use of machinery or money. Too good to be true?
No! Nature has its own way of providing.
All you have to do is use those resources that
are already available. Start with breath
then begin building mini-relaxations and
mindfulness into your day. The next step
is meditation and then guided imagery.
Find a quiet place — take a comfortable position
— play your favorite music, relax and begin.