Why FEAR Triggers Stress Response, the Fight, Flight Or Freeze Response. And why the degree of your stress response matches your level of fear. As someone who has been teaching people how to let go of stress for nearly 20 years. I can tell you the more FEAR you perceive in a situation the higher the level of the stress. So why is some FEAR real and some FEAR is not?
When FEAR Is Real
FEAR is our natural response to danger. So in a life-threatening situation, the physiological stress response symptoms you experience are there to help keep you alive. The surge of stress hormones, increased heart rate and blood flow as well as dilated pupils. Help us be alert, focused, run fast and strong. That is why so many people are reported at being able to push past their limits in extreme situations.
I remember an emergency situation where I experienced this surge of hormones, energy, and stamina. I had just passed my driving test, 10th time actually LOL. And the first time I went out to drive the car with my sister and a friend. A young man high on drugs ran out in front of my car. In a split second, I hear a bang and see him thrown over the road by another van.
Now, despite having seriously mobility issues and other disabling health challenges at the time. I jumped over the passenger’s site and started running towards a phone box to phone for an ambulance. Now I didn’t make the phone box I actually fell causing a bit of injury to myself and spraining a lot of muscles. So I ended up in the ambulance with the person who was knocked down.
But interestingly all three of us in the car all responded differently. My friend screamed in shock, my sister initially froze and I fleed to get help. The survival response initially helped push my body to a certain extreme more than it had been doing. But the reality is most FEAR or STRESS experience in our day to day life is not usually an emergency or life-threatening situation.
False Evidence Appears Real?
F.E.A.R an acronym used to describe self-generated fear or stress. The biggest cause of the STRESS epidemic today. False Evidence Appearing Real, is fear unsubstantiated in the present. It is triggered by what if’s.
So most FEAR and STRESS today is actually a physiological symptom of our MIND’S perception of what may happen. Not what is actually happening. FEAR around what may happen in our relationships, money, work, health, family.
Typical scenarios include maybe believing you might get fired at work if you get in late. Now you may never be late and the reality of that actually happening may not be true. But your physiological response, your symptoms to this belief is real. So much so your mind has triggered the Fight Or Flight Survival Response. So what is the difference between anxiety and fear?
Difference between FEAR and ANXIETY
FEAR triggers an innate survival response, a physiological change in mind and body that is necessary for survival. Increased heart rate, dilated pupils…all preparing the body to Fight Or Flight from danger.
ANXIETY tends to trigger vaguer unpleasant symptoms like butterflies in the stomach. The symptoms are not specifically related to an exact specific threat but a generic possibility that something may happen. That is why many people who suffer from chronic anxiety become generally negative and fearful of a wide range of everyday events. Than those with STRESS triggered by specific events.
Fear is said to always produce a related stress ( survival) response. That level of stress response matches the perceived level of fear.
Tips To Let Go Of F.E.A.R.
- Feel and face your FEAR but don’t let it control or disable you. When you recognise your symptoms are just symptoms. You lower the power and suffering it has over you.
- Learn how to be in the moment, just be. The more you can be fully in the present moment, the less your mind wanders into the what if’s. The right type of meditation and mindfulness can help you be more in the moment.
- Learn how to manage and reduce your stress. Learn stress management strategies to build stress resilience.
- Learn how to relax, too many people have forgotten how to relax, fully relax. Learn how to switch off and relax deeply, the relaxed response will move you off and away from the stress response.
- Be mindful of triggers and thought patterns. The more you recognise key events or situations that tend to trigger specific FEARS or STRESSORS. The more you can address them.
- Address old beliefs, old conditioning and old trauma that is reinforcing negative or fearful thought patterns. Inner Child Work is highly effective at releasing old distorted fears.
- Detach or remove yourself from unhealthy situations. Too many of us stick far too long in situations that are extremely unhealthy for our wellbeing. Whether that is a work environment, an extremely destructive or toxic relationship. Learn how to disengage or move on.