Anxiety, Flushing and the Fight or Flight Response

Anxiety, Flushing and the Fight or Flight Response

Flushing and anxiety go together so much that it’s become a cliché in many movie depictions of anxiety sufferers. Although it can also be a symptom of a medical condition called rosacea, it is most frequently connected to the “fight or flight” response that is prompted by anxiety. However, it is important to rule out any physical conditions that could be causing your flushing, so a doctor’s visit is a must. Once you’ve given a bill of good health, it’s time to explore strategies for overcoming the anxiety that leads to your flushing.

Anxiety, Flushing and the Fight or Flight ResponseFlushing is technically caused by an alteration in your blood circulation, causing your blood to leave your extremities and rush to your face, hence the redness. This can be embarrassing, as your anxiety is literally written all over your face, and it can also lead to tingling sensations in the parts of your body where the blood has departed. It’s important to remember that this flushing can’t hurt you in any way, as it’s only a minor nuisance that will go away once you’ve addressed your anxiety.

The “fight or flight” response is a perfectly natural biological function that was designed to keep us alert for any potential predators we may come across. However, this very necessary aspect of our natures can often go into overdrive in anxiety sufferers, making them respond to dangers that don’t exist in reality. The “fight or flight” response works by sending a surge of adrenaline throughout your body to give you the energy you need to fight against real or perceived threats, or flee from them. Unfortunately, the response can lead to a host of unpleasant physical symptoms as the blood races to the parts of your body that are needed most in a threatening situation. You don’t need to always fall prey to this response, as there are a multitude of ways that you can soothe the effects that anxiety has on your body, and prevent it from rearing its ugly head on a regular basis in your life. Some degree of anxiety is necessary for survival, but when it’s ruling your daily life, it’s time to make some important changes.

One important change you can make is to improve your breathing skills. Most people take breaths that are far too shallow, and it’s important to always breathe from your diaphragm. Slow, deep breaths are the name of the game if you want to prevent the vicious cycle of panic attacks. You can begin by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and close your eyes. Place your hand on your diaphragm, and slowly breathe in to the count of five. Hold the breath for five seconds, and then slowly release. Try to focus on the sensation of the breath filling your body and then leaving, and continue doing this until you begin to feel relaxed. Make a practice of this every day and it won’t be long until you begin to notice its beneficial effects.

Another great tip to overcome anxiety is to get plenty of anxiety. Cardiovascular exercise is nature’s antidote to the harmful effects of anxiety, and you should engage in it for at least thirty minutes every day. Any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up will do, but remember to take it easy in the beginning if you haven’t work out in a while. Many people fail to incorporate regular exercise in their lives because they try to do too much, too soon. Running, walk, bicycling and dancing are all great examples of cardiovascular exercise. Finally, try some herbs that are known to have a therapeutic effect on anxiety symptoms, such as chamomile and kava kava.

References:

“Blushing and Flushing.” Better Health Channel. <http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au> 8 Jan 2013.

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