Fight, Flight, Freeze Response



Through dealing with anxiety, we all have various methods in calming ourselves down when it gets to a fever pitch and becomes a panic attack. Similar to fear, anxiety invokes a comparable fight, flight, freeze response in the brain. Initially fight, flight, freeze were connected to life threatening danger, but anxiety has brought it to a new stage for the new digital age.


The difference with anxiety is it seems to exclusively select flight or freeze first as the battle is essentially internal. People suffering from social anxiety face the fight, flight, freeze stimulus every time they’re invited somewhere they’ve never been with people they’ve never met, for example. The flight and freeze are the initial instinct because the fight comes from within you. Choosing to confront the anxiety and challenging you through the discomfort.


All these anxieties and fears derive from the fight, flight, freeze response and that is a constant internal battle of no and yes. The constant question of our futures often cripples us from experiencing events that can often be positive experiences. Once we overcome the fight, flight, freeze response and embrace our surroundings, no matter what they are, we can overcome the situation itself.


One of the tools I’ve used to overcome my internal fight, flight, freeze response is statistically probability. Something I’ve had the fortune of experiencing in my life is swimming with sharks, stingrays and other tropical animals and fish. This is an event that would normally initiate a fight, flight, freeze response in many people but the thought of the statistically probability of being attacked is slim to none really comforted me and I was completely at ease. Statistically probability might not be your thing, but those numbers are out there for you to access if you ever fear something.


Whether the instinct is to fight, fly or freeze depends on your personal experience with anxiety and your response to the situation. No two people suffer in the same way, though there are overlapping similarities bunched into categories such as social anxiety, driving anxiety (road rage), travel anxiety, agoraphobia and claustrophobia, all things I will go into further detail on in a later blog.

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