Trauma Responses: Flight Response

One type of trauma response is called the flight trauma response. You may feel the urge to literally run away from the situation due to stress and anxiety. 

Here we’ll dive deeper into what are trauma responses and how they can both help you as well as how they can be unhealthy. We are always here to assist you in your journey to healing and recovery, so we will also share how to get in touch with us today for more information about our programs.

What are Trauma Responses? 

Trauma responses occur when you perceive a situation as threatening or dangerous and it triggers you in some sort of way. It can be anything from experiencing confusion and exhaustion to numbness and dissociation. You may also feel physical symptoms such as agitation and anxiety in your body. 

There are four main types of trauma responses and they are as follows:

  • Fight
  • Flight
  • Freeze 
  • Fawn

Here we are going to take a closer look at the flight trauma response and what it all entails. 

How It Helps

The flight trauma response in particular involves being triggered by stress and then literally or figuratively fleeing a situation. You may be driven to leave a situation entirely if the fight response isn’t working, for example. The ways in which it can be helpful are that it allows you to not participate in harmful or unproductive conversations or will aid you in leaving unhealthy relationships. 

Furthermore, it can help by making sure you can properly assess danger and can motivate you to leave physically dangerous situations. You are essentially sensing real danger and removing yourself from your environment and surroundings to protect yourself.

How It Can Be Unhealthy

On the other hand, a flight trauma response can also be unhealthy in some cases. For instance, you may begin to perceive everything as dangerous and take on compulsive tendencies. You might be in a state of constant fear, be focused on perfectionism, and need to stay busy all the time. 

You might not be able to sit still and may engross yourself in work or other types of activities to take your mind off of it. You’re ultimately trying to outrun the perceived danger when you showcase these kinds of behaviors.

What Typical Flight Responses Look Like

A flight response is also your wish to deny or escape pain and distress. A typical flight response as a child may be that you stayed out later walking around the neighborhood or stayed at school longer to avoid going home. You may tend to occupy yourself with work or school or avoid arguments by turning up your music instead. 

As an adult, it can look like perfectionism in all that you do or ending a relationship in which you feel threatened. You may also use hobbies or even substances to fend off feelings of fear and anxiety. Dealing with painful and difficult emotions can be challenging so what you’re doing is filling the void and covering them up in other ways. In some instances, you may even be trying to fend off full-on panic.

Effects of Repeated Flight Response

There is an impact on you, your mental health, and your body when you are always in the repeated flight response. You may always feel anxious or constantly be reacting to external stimulation and eventually lose all motivation to do anything at all. 

You likely feel not only tired but often exhausted if you are in a constant state of the flight trauma response. If you’re always in flight response then you may become a more agitated person in general and always assume or think you are in danger. It’s also possible that you instead become more still and silent as a way to deal with the fear.

How to Get Your Body Out of Flight Mode

What you need to do is find ways to cope and get out of always being in flight mode for the best outcome. If you want to stay healthy and happy then there are some activities and mechanisms you can try to ensure you feel safe and protected. 

Some ideas to try are:

  • Getting up and moving around: Use this as a chance to reset and stop overthinking. Try going outside and taking a walk or going for a run.
  • Move to a safe place: Move to a spot that feels less threatening such as heading outdoors or go to a quiet room in your home.
  • Slow down your breathing: The breath plays a key role in helping to keep you calm and put you back at ease. Shallow breathing creates more anxiety and stress while diaphragmatic breathing will reverse the stress response. 
  • Reach out and find social support: Get in touch with trusted friends or family and let them know how you’re feeling and what’s going on to get their support and help.

One of the most useful and important ways to get your body out of flight mode and stay out of it is to practice self-care and live a healthy lifestyle. This includes getting enough sleep, getting regular exercise, and eating well-balanced meals. Also, connect with others and find hobbies and activities that you enjoy doing in your free time.

Reach Out To Peaks Recovery Today For Help

It can take up to an hour for your body to come down from a stress-related response. Keep this in mind the next time you recognize that you are in flight mode or you are feeling overwhelmed and agitated. Give the above coping mechanisms a try to see if they work for you. However, remind yourself that there is always professional help out there if you need it.

Contact Peaks Recovery today to learn more about our wide variety of mental health and trauma response programs that can help you heal and get you on the road to recovery. You aren’t alone and there is an opportunity for you to lead a healthier, less stressed-out, and more fulfilling life where you feel safe and protected. 

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.