Stress: Fight or Flight


Many thousands of years ago, our “stress” was focused around survival, and our main stressors were mostly physical ones (like being eaten by a large animal!). Today stress is often more about a perceived threat, than an actual physical life-threatening threat.

However, our bodies still react the same way.

When you encounter a perceived threat or stressor, your sympathetic nervous system (also called “Fight or Flight” response) gets activated. Whether a large animal or a school/work deadline, your body handles stress the same way. It prepares you to be able to run.

Your body then releases a surge of hormones, including cortisol - which increases the sugars (glucose) in your body to give you the energy to “run”.

For your body to help you “fight or flight”, it also must stop many of your other important functions (like your digestive and immune systems!) to divert your energy to your muscles to flee. Once a threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal - and other systems resume their regular activities.

But these days, we have less of the short-lived stress, and more of the “constantly present” stressors that make your body feel always under attack. Therefore, that fight-or-flight response stays turned on.


The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:


👉Anxiety/Depression

👉Digestive problems

👉Headaches

👉Heart disease

👉Blood sugar issues (including diabetes)

👉Sleep problems

👉Weight gain

👉Memory and concentration impairment

This is why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stressors.


Stressful events are facts of life. You may not be able to change your current situation, but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you.


Stress management strategies include:


✅ Healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep

✅Relaxation techniques such yoga, deep breathing, getting a massage or learning to meditate

✅Hobbies (reading a book or listening to music)

✅Healthy friendships

✅A sense of humour

✅Volunteering

✅Professional counseling when needed