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Jul
26
Rick Boersma

We all experience stress in our lives. They may be small, everyday stressors like getting stuck in traffic, missing a work deadline or getting into an argument. Or they may be larger stressful events like getting into a car accident and being laid off from your job. Whether experiencing a small or large stressor, we will have a physiological body response to the perceived threat or danger. The response occurs in a part of our brain called the hypothalamus. When we are stimulated, the hypothalamus activates two systems which produce the flight or fight response. You can read more about this process here.

The physical responses that result are intended to help protect you from the danger you are facing. Some of these include our respiratory rate increasing, awareness intensifying, pupils dilate, our sight sharpens, our impulses quicken, etc. They prepare you to either run from the threat (flight) or fight against it.  When we are faced with a problem or stressor and in this state of mind it is extremely difficult to think rationally. Out of fear, we are in a negative state of mind, our rational mind is disengaged, we are overwhelmed and only focused on short-term survival, resulting in being unable to make clear choices and recognize the consequences.

Being aware of this can be very beneficial in our work and personal lives. Everyday we are faced with different stresses and try to deal with it in the best way. Knowing this, it is helpful to avoid giving in to our automatic fight or flight response. Instead, we should do the opposite. Try to stop and take time to keep calm so that we can rationally respond to the threat - this is called the STOP model.  For more information, read Using the STOP Model blog post.

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