Chronic “Fight or Flight” Mode Harms Your Health
Let me tell you a tale about a little part of our brain that can cause us a LOT of trouble…
It’s called the amygdala.
And while it’s small, it has a massively important job.
The amygdala is where most decisions are made about how to react to potential dangers in the environment.
Its primary job is to keep feelings like fear and anger in check UNTIL the body senses a threat. Then it springs into action.
But this ancient part of the brain faces challenges in our modern world.
When you’re in danger, the amygdala comes out swinging. It makes you feel scared and angry until you escape from the threat.
The amygdala will keep up the fight as long as the threat remains. But here’s the problem: threats have changed over the years.
Your ancient ancestor might have fought off a saber-toothed tiger or engaged in hand-to-hand combat against a neighboring tribe.
But once the threat had passed, their parasympathetic nervous system “applied the brakes,” dialing down the stress response (more on this in a moment). And their body’s systems returned to normal.
In today’s society, we’re sometimes faced with multiple “threats” a day. Something as simple as a distracted driver, an angry boss, walking down a dark street, or an upsetting social media post can activate your amygdala.
In other words, we’re STUCK in fight or flight mode a LOT of the time. And that puts a lot of stress on the body as it prepares for whatever may come.
- The hormone epinephrine surges through your body.
- Your heart beats faster, pushing blood to your heart, muscles, and vital organs.
- Your blood pressure and pulse rate rise.
- You breathe more rapidly, and your lung’s airways expand.
- Your senses become sharper.
- Glucose and fat are released, giving you extra energy.
If you need to dodge a punch or jump out of the path of a speeding train, thanks to your amygdala, you can. In fact, all those changes allow you to do it without even having to think.
But if the stress response never gets switched off, you can eventually end up battling the health problems that come with chronic stress.
Chronically elevated epinephrine can damage arteries and blood vessels, boosting blood pressure and raising your risk of heart attack and stroke. And the stress-hormone cortisol can trigger overeating, fat storage, and unhealthy weight gain.
In a way, your amygdala works harder in today’s manmade environment than it ever would in the natural world.
But the good news is there IS a way to put your amygdala to sleep. And it couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is take a stroll through a primarily green or blue area..
Head outdoors and find someplace where lots of green things are growing, or there’s a large body of water (or better yet, both). Spending as little as 30 minutes in a natural setting can help calm the amygdala.
So, to flip your amygdala’s switch into sleep mode, spend some time every week communing with nature.
P.S. Discover how spending more time near a greenway, forest, or park (green spaces) OR a lake, ocean, or other waterways (blue spaces) can literally keep you OUT of the hospital. I’ve got the scoop RIGHT HERE.
Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND
Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.
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