You can jump below to the diver’s picture for the strategy…but first, Let's take a brief look at what happens when we are stressed or have an anxiety attack.
When our nervous system is stuck at "danger" and we are in a constant state of stress, we need to listen to these messages and take action to reduce that stress. Think of stress and anxiety in terms of smoke during a fire. Smoke is important to notify us of the fire, but if we try to put out the smoke, we miss our goal. We must find the flame, the source!
But…there is a way to rapidly take care of our racing heart.
When we are under stress, we stop thinking with our frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for analysis, communication (speech), the ability to wait, and voluntary motor coordination. It also contains the centers of memory, decision making, creativity and reasoning by analogy. Do you think our horrendous reactions under stress make sense now? Being “speechless”, not waiting before speaking our mind, not “thinking straight”.
Ohhhh, this is why we sometimes react like a child in the face of stress? Yes! In young people (even young adults), this part of the brain is not completely formed! For adults, well…it gets hijacked!
But what happens physically?
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that is related to the internal organs ,including among others the blood vessels, stomach, intestines, lungs, pupils, heart, as well as the sweat, saliva and digestive glands.
I will spare you the details, but in short, our body gets prepared to react to a danger, an emergency. It increases the heart rate and the strength of heart contractions, and dilates the airways to facilitate breathing. It causes the release of energy stored in the body. Muscle strength is increased. This system is also responsible for sweaty palms, dilated pupils and bristly hair. It slows down physiological processes that are less important in an emergency, such as digestion and urination.
It’s all essential when there is a real danger, a real emergency. But when every worry, problem, or upset puts us in this condition, we need to find ways to help our nervous system to calm down.
ROBUST STRATEGY TO HELP OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM TO GET BACK TO NORMAL
Researching marine mammals, scientists found out this amazing strategy.
Check out this youtube illustrating this “tip”: Diver’s reflexe
When you feel that your nervous system is mobilizing fight, flight or freeze response, put cold water in your face, hold your breath and bend at the waist. A hand towel wet with cold water or ice cubes can replace the bowl of water.
Your heart rate will slow down and you’ll be somewhat able to “respond” instead of “reacting”.
Use this strategy in addition to my “STOP strategy” below to get back in a better state of mind and get my free download on Stress reactions and self soothing strategies for more helpful tips. (https://www.ginamichaudtir.com/post/free-download-stress-reactions )