Fight or Flight

4 Oct

Stress can kill you.

That seemed to be the main theme of my psych lecture the other day.

It was really comforting considering what my week looked like: test, assignment due, homework due, essay due, test…

Great, so now I’m stressing about how much work I have to do, and I’m stressing out about how much I’m stressing out.

So how can stress kill you exactly? Well, apparently stress isn’t just all in your head; it actually has an effect on your immune system. Meaning you can actually become physically ill from excess stress.

This shouldn’t be a surprise though. I mean, who hasn’t felt sick during an exam when you look at a question and you just…blank.

Oh, and then usually, it’s worth the most marks so you just blabber on about whatever random facts that you actually can recall. Whether or not it actually answers the question though, is a toss-up.

See? There you go. That’s stress wreaking havoc on your body.

We were also talking about our flight or fight response in class, and how it’s sort of outdated.

In the old days, people actually had things to be afraid of. Let’s consider for example, oh…I don’t know….that time when cavemen were running away from hungry dinosaurs (what? that didn’t happen? I thought The Flintstones was a documentary? No? Oh well…).

Anyways, those cavemen were subjected to dangerous situations all the time and they benefited from the fight or flight response. Basically, they came face to face with a hungry dinosaur, and their bodies prepared them to either fight the thing, or (probably the better option in this case) to run for the hills.

But today, people just aren’t subjected to dangerous, life-threatening situations in their everyday lives. So the things that activate our fight or flight response (and our stress) are things that you can’t actually fight or run away from.

So, if we can’t act on our stress to relieve it, where does it go?

Well, if you’re like me, it gets bottled up inside you until the night before your first university test and then you have a mini-meltdown.

As university students, we stress about tests, deadlines, and getting our laundry done without shrinking it or dying it different colours (that last one might just be me, though).

These things are our hungry dinosaurs.

What’s important to realize is that these fears of ours don’t compare to dangerous, life-threatening situations. We need to figure out what fears are worth worrying about, and which aren’t.

For example:

Finding yourself standing between a mama bear and her cubs: Worth it.

Stressing out about a test: Not worth it.

Finding yourself stranded on a desert island with no hope of rescue: Worth it.

Feeling like your going to fail your exams: Not worth it.

Going skydiving and forgetting your parachute: Worth it.

Worrying that, even though you brought about 20 pens to your test, every one of them will die before you finish: Not worth it.

Do you see a difference? Because sometimes I feel like I can’t.

Sometimes, I feel like I would gladly take that mama bear in exchange for a university test.

But that’s ridiculous.

It’s silly to worry about such small fears in comparison to others.

You can’t let yourself get stressed out over your fears. Because, hey, it could always be worse…


….you could always be stuck in a cage with this guy!


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