Fight flight is an instinctual response to a stressful situation. In ancient times our ancestors often needed to fight or give flight in order to survive. Today, we still have that same instinct along with the intense chemical responses that come with it. One problem is that we experience a lot more of it than our ancestors did.
In ancient times, a life threatening situation could happen at any time. People either had to react quickly or face death. Adrenalin was natures answer to this problem.
In modern times, these stressful situations are rarely life or death, but our bodies still react the same way. A sort of biochemical nightmare happens. Everything the body has is put towards immediate survival. Every system that is not needed now is shut down.
This takes a heavy toll on the body, and it has to have time to recover or these systems don’t get a chance to recover. Systems like the immune system, digestion, sex, and cellular repair. The things essential to survival of the species and long life.
To make maters worse, modern life provides luxuries that ancient cultures didn’t have, and these very same luxuries cause a fight flight reaction in our bodies, just like facing imminent death.
We end up being stuck in a permanent state of fight flight with none of the systems that keep us alive long term functioning fully if at all.
The ailments that develop from being stuck in fight flight vary from person to person depending on their genetic make up, environmental factors, and the person’s disposition — happy people tend to live longer. Most major health conditions that happen today can be traced right back to fight flight chemical reactions, if the biochemistry is looked at the right way.
The luxuries that cause our modern condition? One factor is emotional stress that can be caused by everyday activities like driving around, going to a job, not having enough money, bad news that comes to us all the time, multitasking, eating on the run, and so on.
In most cases, the biggest stress factor is diet. Modern processing has made food amply available in many countries. The body naturally craves carbohydrates because times were often lean for our ancestors. A sweet tooth is hereditary, they either fattened up for winter on sweet fruits or died. The biochemical reactions necessary to deal with sugar are the same as fight flight. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that sugar causes a fight flight reaction.
Every serious modern ailment can be traced back to the chemical reactions caused by the instinctual fight flight response. Everything from lower back pain to cancer. Diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety attacks, dementia, chronic fatigue all can be traced back to the reactions that come from fight flight and the adrenal fatigue that usually results. Of course, the whole of a condition has many factors.
There are things you can do about it. Learning to relax and accept maters for example. Studies show that being grateful for what you have increase happiness. And of course, avoiding processed foods like the plague that they are.
Adrenal fatigue is a big theme of this site, and that’s where fight flight leads. The body lives much longer when the adrenals are at peak efficiency, when stress is low
This has been a very incomplete article on what happens when the body is under stress for prolonged periods of time. Much has been left out or only hinted at. The whole story is pretty complex, but the main thing is to do everything you can to reduce or eliminate stress in your life. It will increase the length of that precious life.