We all know of the ‘fight or flight’ response to an overwhelming situation – but now experts are suggesting there’s a third stress response called the ‘freeze mode’.
Dr Carmen Harra, American author of Committed: Finding Love and Loyalty Through the Seven Archetypes, explained how the modern world makes it nearly impossible to avoid feeling stressed.
But the psychologist said ‘stress now goes beyond our “fight or flight” mechanism, the automatic response to a perceived threat’.
‘It can cause us to enter something called freeze mode, a state in which we find it nearly impossible to take any action,’ she told FEMAIL. ‘Think of a deer in headlights: the animal senses oncoming danger yet it remains rooted to the spot.
‘In terms of daily life, freeze mode can translate into avoiding tasks because they seem overwhelming, not being able to make decisions, and experiencing an overall sense of dread.
We all know of the ‘fight or flight’ response to an overwhelming situation – but now experts are suggesting there’s a third stress response called the ‘freeze mode’ (stock photo)
‘Even small actions like not wanting to partake in social activities, feeling a sense of heaviness in certain parts of the body, and finding that we can’t stop scrolling on social media can indicate freeze mode.’
Below are five ways to help break out of freeze mode and hopefully reduce stress once and for all, according to the expert.
REALISE WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T CONTROL
Dr Carmen said: ‘Put things in perspective. A large part of managing stress involves realising what is in and out of your control.
‘Stress robs you of your personal power and the influence you have over your circumstances. If there is nothing you can realistically do to resolve or improve the outcome of something, then there is no use in worrying about it.
AVOID NEGATIVE THINKING
The psychologist explained that people who are suffering from ‘freeze mode’ must learn to ‘mitigate thoughts and emotions’ in order to ‘lower stress and reduce its harmful effects on our health’.
She said: ‘Negative feelings translate into health problems, especially in time. Stress lowers the immune system, impairs the digestive system, and triggers inflammation, not to mention that it induces anxiety and depression and makes us say and do things we don’t mean.
‘Only when we acknowledge the devastating effects it has on our minds and bodies can we take the right actions to combat stress.
‘Learning to accept, process, and ultimately control emotions will grant you not only inner peace, but physical and mental wellness.’
‘Put it out of your mind and put your energy into better things. Elevating your perspective gives you the wisdom of detachment so that you let go of situations that hinder you.
‘One of the keys to detachment is to train your brain to think less and less about aspects that stress you.
‘When you find yourself creating hurtful or disadvantageous stories in your mind, stop and refocus. Doing so will allow you to reach a healthy emotional flux in time.
‘If you shift your focus, you can shift the outcome. And the less you worry about it, the more likely it is to be resolved.
DON’T OBSESS ON THE PAST OR FUTURE
‘Keep past, present, and future in order,’ said the psychologist. ‘Putting past, present, and future in their proper places can help you reduce anxiety about what’s to come and appreciate what is right now.
‘Living outside of time disempowers you, while living in the now provides you with strength.
‘When you relinquish unrealistic expectations, you start to live in the present and make the best of whatever situation you’re faced with at the moment. You harness the full might of your power and resources that are within your reach.
‘When you find your thoughts drifting to what could’ve been or what might be, stop them and return to the present.
‘Centre yourself by taking several deep breaths and becoming aware of your surroundings: what do you smell, feel, hear, taste, and see?
‘Take note of the date and time – you exist here and now. Developing a healthy relationship with the notion of time destresses you,’ insisted the expert.
Dr Carmen Harra, American author of Committed: Finding Love and Loyalty Through the Seven Archetypes, explained how the modern world makes it nearly impossible to avoid feeling stressed (stock photo)
SPEND TIME DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO – NOT JUST WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO
Dr Carmen discussed how spending ‘sacred time’ could improve a person’s response to stress.
‘Instead of endlessly fussing over something, participate in a more productive activity: move your body, buy yourself something nice, cook dinner for yourself, mingle with new people, learn a new art, and so on,’ the expert suggested.
She continued: ‘Walk outside at least a few times a week by yourself, absorbing the scenery around you.
‘Practising your favourite hobby engages your mind and body in an enjoyable activity. Take up a craft that you love and that requires your attention.
‘Do one thing that redirects your attention and fulfils you each day. It is equally valuable to devote time and effort to the things you want to do, not just the things you have to do.’
RETHINK YOUR ROUTINE
Dr Carmen suggested that a changing of a person’s routine ‘a little bit’ can help reduce stress.
The expert said: ‘If your routine is creating stress, strategise how you can avoid certain situations or encounters.
She explained, for instance: ‘Declutter your environment and energy field, freeing yourself from toxic people and detrimental habits. Give yourself a break and reduce the number of activities you have to do each day.
‘If you see that you have extra time, you can add more tasks. Prioritising your activities from what’s most to least important will help keep you organised.
‘Be a bit more realistic with your time: don’t cram things or think you can do everything in an hour. Things usually take longer than we plan, so give yourself some extra room.
‘Practise the principle of quality over quantity; you don’t have to get everything done in one day. Rather, concentrate on doing things the right way.’