Flight Response

Anyone else realizing their flight response is on high alert?

I think mine turned on a couple years ago, and I have yet to completely turn it off. And now in a pandemic, I think there might be a good number of us who feel this way. With our flight response, when there is an imminent threat that can’t be fought off, we want to run away from it and get to safety as soon as possible. With Covid-19, we don’t have a natural immunity to this particular virus strain, and there is no guarantee that the virus is mild or survivable. For many, yes, it will end up being okay; but for many others who were seemingly in good health, they ended up in the hospital or dying. And this pandemic is far from over, so this flight response that many of us may be feeling might stay in place for a while.

This is challenging enough on its own. But we still face every day stresses. A rough day at work. A miscommunication between friends. A burnt dinner. These are common issues that we are more than capable with dealing with, but these problems feel amplified when our flight responses is clicked on. Our daily inconveniences feel like major disasters that are a threat to our well-being, so we might be inclined to shut down and withdraw as a way of fleeing to safety.

There are times when it is completely appropriate to withdraw and take some time to collect yourself. But if our flight response is triggered throughout the day, we often don’t have the luxury to hide and practice self-care. It is good to develop some coping mechanisms to help us check out for just a moment and then get back to the day. One that I use often is box breathing, which is when you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold for four counts. This helps you regain some control over your thoughts and your muscles (especially if you are prone to panic attacks.) Grounding yourself by putting your hand over your heart and speaking affirmations to yourself can help focus your mind. Make sure you’re eating and drinking when you need to. Here you can find some other suggestions for anyone who struggles with anxiety: https://adaa.org/tips

I know it feels like the world is ending, and this makes our daily stresses feel like uncontrollable chaos. It’s rough. But when we break a dish or if the dog chews up a shoe or we forget to take the trash up to the curb, it is not a threat or a disaster. Get your breath, do what you need to fight off that flight response.

We aren’t going to feel this way forever.

Taking a Hit

I get impatient with myself when I am healing and growing. I get frustrated when I don’t progress as quickly as I want. Then, I get extra rattled when I encounter something that triggers pain in those healng wounds; I feel like I regress and my already too slow progress has been undone.

I make it worse for myself when I lack grace for myself. I cause myself more pain when I don’t allow myself the space to feel what I need to feel.

Healing is not linear. Steps forward and steps back are all part of the process, and the sooner that is accepted the better the healing process will be.

In the healing process we’ll all take hits. It doesn’t have to knock us all the way back to where we were. And if it does, we already know how to find our way back to where we left off because we’ve done it before. Expect setbacks. Love yourself through them. Celebrate every small victory. Rely on the strength you’ve gained in the process.

Our past healing paves the way for future healing.

We Are Capable

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

We are capable of adapting to unforeseen change. We are capable of navigating uncertainty. We are capable of being flexible and learning.

We are capable of loving ourselves and showing our selves compassion. We are capable of telling ourselves the things we need to hear (even if we wish others would say those things to us.) We are capable of self-soothing.

We are capable of change. We are capable of taking responsibility for our actions, even when it feels awful. We are capable of taking responsibility for our reactions to others, even when others are harmful to us; it is not our job to claim responsibility for the oppression or bullying we have faced, but we are responsible for our own actions in response. We cannot change others, only ourselves.

We are capable of taking responsibility of the harm we have done.

We are capable of healing. Healing is not a straight line; there will be both progress and setbacks. But we are capable to move forward and not be stuck in that misery forever.

We are capable of trying again. We are capable of forging new paths. We are capable of starting over.

We are capable to apologize, to push ourselves more, to do hard and humbling things.

We are capable of self-reflection.

We are capable to listen to our bodies and our intuitions, and be in tune with them. Our bodies have more wisdom than we give them credit for, and we must learn to listen and heed them. We are capable of discerning between the discomfort that helps us to grow and the red flags that warn of danger.

We are capable of loving ourselves the way we deserve to be loved, and taking care of ourselves the way we deserve to be cared for. We are simultaneously capable of being honest about our growing edges and how we are always a beautiful, imperfect work in progress.