Published On: April 28, 2024Categories: Blog, Uncategorized655 words2.5 min read

Fight-or-flight Response and PTSD: Getting Back into Your Body (+7 Tips)

April 28, 2024

Experiencing trauma at 14 caused me to spend most of my adult life in a fight-or-flight response. My body was always on edge. Ready to fight or flee. Which has resulted in my body feeling tense. Achy. Painful. And has caused me not to be in my body. To dissociate. And to flee. Since learning about my repressed trauma, I have been in trauma recovery, and I’ve learned there are several things I can do to stop my fight-or-flight response and to get back into my body. 

Living in a fight-or-flight response is exactly as it sounds: you’re always fighting or fleeing. Angry or dissociating. In survival mode. And your quality of life suffers. It not only affects your mental, physical and emotional health, but it affects your relationships with others. Your job. Your life. And the only ways out are tough. They are simple but not easy. They take work. And it’s all about calming the nervous system. 

I started learning about my nervous system while in occupational therapy. About how my fight-or-flight response causes me to be on edge physically as well as mentally. One of the first times I received occupational therapy, my entire body ached. Like I’d been hit by a bus. My therapist said it was because I was back in my body. And that this was how my body probably always felt. No wonder I’d always wanted to flee it. To dissociate. And to escape from the pain.

But I’ve learned there are ways to make my body feel better. So I want to stay in it. And so I stop living in a fight-or-flight state. 

If you need to get out of a fight-or-flight response or simply to relax, here’s what you can do:

  1. Take magnesium supplements. I take 600 milligrams a day, and it not only helps my digestion, but it helps soothe my forever sore muscles.  
  2. Take Epsom salt baths. Just like taking magnesium, soaking in Epsom salts soothes those tired muscles. Muscles that are forever tense have a moment to let go. And you can get back into your body safely. 
  3. Use magnesium spray. I didn’t know this existed until recently, and it is a game changer. It’s pure magnesium oil spray (that I bought on Amazon) that you put on sore muscles. It helps with restless leg syndrome. With my tense shoulders. You name the muscle, it relaxes it.
  4. Meditate. Meditation took me a while to master. The sitting. The stillness. The ability to let go of thoughts I’d otherwise dwell on. But it’s now something I can access at any time. And it helps me get into my body in minutes. Start with an app. Or by simply sitting and breathing. Focusing on your breath. And letting everything else go. 
  5. Go to acupuncture/get a massage. While these can be pricey, they are worth saving up for. Nothing soothes my nervous system more than acupuncture or my tired muscles more than a massage. 
  6. Use a weighted blanket. All I need is 10 minutes with my weighted blanket, and I feel back in my body. Reset. And ready to go. 
  7. Journal. Journaling helps you get back into your body by helping you hear yourself. It’s the tool I used when I had nothing else. When I was at my lowest. It was a comfort. A therapist. A friend. A way to connect like nothing else. And to help me live safely in my body. 

However you learn to live safely and comfortably in your body, be sure to make note of what works so you can access it quickly when triggered. Be mindful of your responses to know when you are in fight-or-flight mode, and always attempt to find a safe way out of it. 

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Photo by Carolina Basi

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