The Fight-or-Flight Response: Ways to Cope

The fight-or-flight response is our body’s natural reaction to danger. It starts whenever we face a stressful, life threatening situation. This response helps us survive by preparing us to either fight the threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, this stress response is often triggered by events/situations that are non-life-threatening (e.g., traffic jams, work pressure, relationship difficulties), therefore affecting our mental and physical health.

Common Symptoms of Fight-or Flight Response:

  • rapid heart rate
  • faster, shallower breathing
  • increased blood pressure
  • high alertness
  • muscle tension
  • shaking or trembling
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • cold hands
  • sweaty palms
  • tunnel vision
  • agitation
  • focus on negative memories
  • high anxiety/panic attack

Coping Strategies:

  1. Moving to a quiet place
  2. Deep breathing
  3. Engaging in activity (e.g., going for a walk)
  4. Seeking social support
  5. Seeking professional support

Professional guidance can help with specific coping strategies. Feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn optimal ways to regain control and manage the fight-or-flight response.

Basia Andrejko-Gworek, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Permit# TP #213-03