Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness Moments
I noticed that the ‘fight or flight’ response has recently had the word ‘freeze’ added to it. I began to wonder why.
A friend and I recently had a conversation about corporate wellness incentives and whether they really address wellbeing at a core level. She made an interesting point about how the mind and body communicate on a subtle level and how it is continually adapting and responding to its environment. The fact that most work/office habitats, regardless of how beautifully laid out and stocked they are, send the wrong signal to the nervous system and this is an important factor in understanding the wider problem of stress.
Most people know what happens during the fight or flight response. The body prepares itself so that it can respond to the threat whether perceived or real.
But what if the threat is your office chair? Your ‘work-mode’?
Spending long periods of time hunched forward sends a signal to the brain that all is not well. This happens because you have adopted a posture that your nervous system typically identifies with defence or protection. Your breathing becomes shallow, stress hormones are released, your body becomes tight. This is not conducive to developing a creative and productive culture because when the body is defending, it is not performing. Nor does this scenario make for a happy employee or colleague. And, many people have forgotten how to make the shift away from ‘work-mode’.
The effects of the perceived threat, in this case, are the high levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) that remain in the body. When there is no opportunity for them to lower significantly there is no time for the body to rest and recharge. The knock on effect is at best interrupted or poor sleep patterns and at worst chronic health problems.
Our fight or flight response is about survival. We activate it when we believe there’s a chance we can outrun or outfight our attackers but the freeze response gets activated when there’s nowhere to run. This is when people experience breakdowns.
I could now see why the third word had been added. Freeze is the final defence. The conversation reminded me again to regularly get out of work mode and schedule time for happiness, rest and recovery.
Do you build time into your week? What do you do? I’d love to hear about your ideas.
With love, light and gratitude. Maria Arpa -x-
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