Monthly Archives: October 2011

Fight or Flight Response

Fight or Flight response


fight or flightWhen we use the term” fight or flight” we are usually referring to the process that takes place when we as humans revert to our basic primeval instincts when dealing with a stressful situation such as coming face to face with a sabre tooth tiger.  “What?” I hear you cry, there are no sabre tooth tigers left, we are more likely these days to come face to face with a crowd of people in the situation of public speaking or a job interview or a situation which causes us to feel wary such as seeing the bank manager over an overdraft or dealing with debt problems.


You see the “fight or flight” response was a short lived experience for our forebears, the stone age man and woman, who would be experiencing the dangers of living in an age where humans were beginning to work out how to rule the planet and leverage skills of thinking to outsmart the larger animals, however they didn’t have all the tools in the tool box and so still had to run away on most days! OK so maybe the outcome was a grizzly one for that particular cave man coming face to face with the sabre tooth or any other larger animal but, and this is a big but, their fight or flight arousal was short lived, they had to make a decision immediately in order to get out of that situation and try to survive. That is what the fight or flight response or mechanism really is a survival mechanism, an early warning to us to take a certain action to maintain the race.


Fast forward several millenniums and we have conquered the sabre tooth, in fact that species and several others are no longer with us and humans have developed our tool box to the degree that we no longer need to be wary of that kind of situation because we are dominant beings on planet earth and we require tools which aid thinking not those which aid hunting.

But we are still facing stressful situations which give rise to the fight or flight response or  stimulus however most people in this modern society do more of a “Sit and stew” than a fight or flight response to such a situation.

The conditions which now cause us to awaken our deep rooted response to stimulus are seen often in the workplace as well as in other situations where workers have to deal with stress. How to deal with stress is now the big issues replacing the split second decision of how to deal with the sabre tooth tiger. Due to stress being the prolonged stimulation it has a devastating effect on the body, mind and ability to do our jobs effectively.


It is thought that people can overcome stressful situations by using stress management techniques that help to break the chronic situations that we are faced with in modern society.