The freeze response is a survival instinct stored deep in your brain. It’s an automatic response to overwhelming danger - or at least perceived danger. When fighting your way out or running away seems impossible, the brain turns on the freeze response as the last resort.
This is not something conscious. It’s not something you plan or choose; it’s something that your deep limbic brain triggers much faster than thinking. And it can be hard to break out of the freeze response. So in this video, we’re going to talk about one of the things I do in session with my clients to help them work through it.
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Hi every one Emma McAdam here.
Today we are going to talk about a question.
I got from one of my viewers and they asked, "How do turn off the freeze, response?" So, that's what we're gonna talk about! Today.
Well,! Basically, the freeze response is a survival instinct stored deep in you, brain.
It's, an automatic response to overwhelming danger, or at least the perception of danger.
When fighting your way, out, or running away seem impossible.
The brain turns on the freeze response as a last resort.
This isn't something conscious.
This isn't something you plan, or choose.
It's, something that your deep limbic brain triggers a lot faster than thinking.
It can be really hard to break out of the freeze, response.
So in this video we're gonna talk about one of the things I do in session with my clients to help them work through it.
So the freeze response is the third option in the flight flight freeze reaction to danger.
Fight works when the threat seems beatable, like some thing, smaller or less powerful than you.
Flight works when you're faster or you have an advantage to escape.
Freeze kicks in automatically when your brain decides that the threat is too large or too overwhelming, or too strong, or fast or powerful to fight off or escape.
The freeze response can be really effective.
You may have seen some of these videos on youtube or in wild life documentaries, where an animal survives, because they froze, they hid, or they played dead.
If you've frozen up in the past, don't beat yourself.
You can just thank your brain for keeping you safe, and we can also talk about some new skills to move forward.
If you look at how the freeze response shows up, it can turn on in this like really big way like freezing up in the middle of battle, or it can also turn on in really small ways.
So like if your stressed about a test, you might feel a sense of dread or a sense of of overwhelm, and then you just try to avoid your homework, or hide from trying to think about your studying.
Our anciently, evolved brain doesn't do a very good job with these modern threats that we have.
That are really quite different than fighting off a tiger.
So, things like social media comments that bother you, or studying for a test, can really turn on that freeze response, because our ancient brain doesn't necessarily know how to respond to that in an effective way., Our anciently, evolved brain might turn on the freeze response in the case of a life threatening event, or just something like public speaking.
So here are some of the symptoms of a freeze, response.
Your, muscles, lock, up, in all or in part of your body.
This is called tonic immobility, and this isn't something that you can control your muscles literally lose the ability to move.
You might feel feelings of numbness, detachment, or dissociation.
This means that you feel like separate from your thoughts.
This is actually a pretty function, response, because, if you're in the face of impending death or pain that you can't escape, then your brain has this ability to kind of separate you from those sensations or from the intensity of that.
If you're taking a test- and you start dissociating or if you're talking about trauma- and you can't even connect with the room, you're in,- that can actually mess up your life, because it's disconnecting you from the things that you care, about., So, people that feel numb or disconnected or kind of unable to attach or feel joy with certain things in their life.
That might be a locked in freeze, response.
Some of the other types of symptoms of a freeze response are feeling overwhelmed, or having fawning behaviors.
So, trying to appease someone who seems threatening, or trying to make them feel good.
or trying to give in to what they're, asking or demanding of you.
Those can all be symptoms of a freeze, response.
A, few more symptoms of the freeze response are a sense of stiffness or heaviness.
Holding your breath, shrinking, or trying to disappear.
People often feel ashamed that they froze up in a situation, but they really shouldn't, and that's for two reasons.
It wasn't in their control to do something different in the moment.
And number two, freezing up might have saved your life.
So, for more on that check out my video, the freeze response in sexual assault.
Anyways, the freeze response can feel paralyzing because it seems to return when we remember traumatic, events.
I've had clients sitting in my office and they're telling me about their trauma, and this is what they look like when they say, they're sitting there like, "I'm, so angry, I'm, so mad.
This guy should be in jail." And they're sitting in my office, frozen stiff.
They're, not moving, they're, saying I'm, so angry.
They're, saying I'm so angry, but what they're body is saying is I'm still powerless, I'm still in danger.
Our memories are stored as much in our bodies as they are in our minds.
So when we think about danger, or we think about trauma, or we watch the news about corona virus.
Our brain can't tell the difference between actual dangers, and these imaginary or perceived dangers.
Things danger that we're thinking about or remembering.
It turns on that exact, same response that freeze response in our nervous system.: Whether we're actually in danger or we're just thinking about danger.
Our brain turns on that fight flight freeze, response.
When we're in the fight flight freeze, mode, we can't process through information.
So, our brain, just the thinking part of our brain basically turns off.
And, so people get stuck in these cycles of reliving their trauma.
Ok, I thought this was going to be a short video now I'm like talking an talking, but here I go.
In order to work through these responses that leave us trapped, we can train ourselves to break out of the freeze response in a couple of ways.
The first thing, I always do with my clients, is I, help them reengage the body.
We have this cycle right.
Your brain sends messages to your body and your body sends messages to your brain.
We reengage the body and it sends messages to the brain that you are actually safe and when the brain is reminded that you are actually safe, then it has the ability to process through some more information.
We plan action in a way that increases your overall sense of power., So you're belief in your ability to take action in a helpful way.
The brain that caused this reaction is not the thinking part of your brain and I'm pointing up here, because this, where your prefrontal cortex is and your cortex and that's where the thinking part of your brain works, and you can't think your way out of a freeze.
You, have to go in kinda through the back door.
It's, your deep survival oriented brain, that's down here in the brain stem that decided to put you into freeze.
So the best way to access that part of the brain is through the body.
So for that reason, I, almost always start with a body up approach to treating trauma and anxiety.
Here's what I do with my clients in session.
We start by creating movement right.
They were sitting here and they were frozen and they were telling me I'm, so angry., So, I, say ok.
Do this with me.
I say pat your legs and I have them start moving their arms and then I, say stomp.
And they'll sit in their on the couch or whatever and they'll start stomping their feet.
And I get them physically moving.
So when their body's, not in freeze it, can send that message to their brain, that I'm, safe, and then I usually have them start doing.
I have them start shaking their arms out, stomping, we do some dancing, we get a little crazy, and I actually had a therapist come in from the office.
Next to me, who wasn't with my practice,? She comes right into my session in the middle of a session and she's like, "Is there a therapist in here.
What are you guys, doing?" Because? She had no idea that, like body work is an essential part of trauma.
Which is unfortunate because she was in the EMDR trained therapist, so I, don't know why she didn't know.
But anyway, I have them wave their arms I.
Have them move around and I have them break their body out of freeze and when I see them calm down and break out of freeze, then we can go back start to process that trauma again.
Both in their body and in their mind.
When we've convinced our brain through our body that we are actually safe, then we can do other things like talking about the traumatic experience while staying out of freeze.
We can practice combating that feeling of overwhelm or we can plan some practical steps to manage certain behaviors that week.
These are all some things that we can do, but we can't do them when we're stuck in the freeze, response.
So for anyone who's stuck in the freeze, response, I encourage you to start moving your body.
But, not in a fear based way, in a slow and intentional way.
So the other thing you can do to break out of the freeze response is you can do some training.
Because? If you have a good protocol, then you can override those natural freeze, habits.
And I talk about this in my other video on the freeze response and sexual assault, but this includes self defense training, and did you know that one of the most effective things people teach like if they're teaching young girls how to avoid sexual assault, one of the most important things they teach is just how to shout no.
How to say that really loud.
And once you've practiced that and practiced that and practiced that, then, in the moment of danger, you're able to draw upon that training and instead of freezing up, scream no at someone and that deters an attacker, a lot of the time.
A few other things that are helpful for breaking out of freeze, are identifying triggers and identifying your signs and symptoms.
You get good at noticing.
Sorry I just hit my mic, so you get good at noticing.
What's going on in your body when you're freezing.
And, when you notice what your body does when you freeze, then you can also take proactive steps to ground yourself here in the present moment, and speaking of grounding.
I have a whole series of videos on my grounding play list on how to do grounding exercises and all of those can help with the freeze, response.
Another thing that you can do that's helpful with the freeze response is to exercise.
So, just any kind of physical exercise, and what exercise does is it takes your body through this natural cycle of getting excited, getting sympathetic? Arousal.
Which is basically your brain is turning on that excitement, the adrenaline and the flooding, which is really a very similar response to that fight.
Flight freeze, response.
So it takes you through that cycle of alert activation, and then, when you're done exercising you go back down through the cycle of calming down and the rest and digest response.
So, it's really healthy.
A healthy nervous system is able to get both activated and relaxed, and exercise can help you go through those natural cycles., Another thing you can do to help with the freeze response is practice how you would like to respond.
If you freeze up in a meeting, instead of speaking up for yourself, you do role plays in front of the mirror of what you want to say.
You practice saying it with your therapist or your friend, and you practice saying it with people who are safe, and the more you practice, it, eventually that muscle memory and that habit is gonna.
Come back to you and you're gonna get you're gonna, develop the ability to say what you wanna say to your boss or whoever it is.
Another thing you can do to help combat the freeze, response, and that's to develop the ability to envision safety.
So if our brain can bring to mind danger, and it has that fight flight freeze response in reaction to imagined or perceived danger.
We can also turn on that calming response and break out of freeze by bringing to mind the visualization of safety.
You bring to mind things going well, you remember times things worked out well and you develop mental resources like an internal safe place and when you're feeling a little nervous, you bring that safe place to mind, and that can turn on that.
Relaxing calming reaction.
So I've made a couple.
Videos on this, one of them is called drawing safety and the other one is guided imagery.
It's called I think it's called a safe place.
And, as you do all this, you're, basically developing emotional muscles.
You practice safe ways to experience, anxiety and work your way through it.
These are things like rock climbing or using the book, Do One Thing Every Day That, Scares You, and basically this is just changing your rules around anxieties.
You have a rule that says it's not ok, to feel anxious.
Then, when you start to feel anxious, you're gonna be more likely to lock up.
If, instead you're rules are I can feel anxious and still be ok, then you'll be more flexible with you're decision making and you're not gonna make your anxiety, worse.
Now, with any trauma, work or anxiety.
Work, you're, really best off working with an experienced therapist., Someone trained in trauma, work or in somatic experiencing or EMDR, may have the skills to help.
I really believe that real growth and healing is possible, and I hope you can give yourself a little credit today for taking the time to improve yourself by watching this video.
Thank you, and also please share this video, because statistically one in five of your friends has experienced trauma and this might help them.
So much, take care and we'll see you next week.
Deep breathing, relaxation strategies, physical activity, and social support can all help if you are feeling the effects of a fight-or-flight response.How long does it take to get out of freeze response? ›
It takes around 20–60 minutes for the body return to its normal state after the stress response becomes activated. Afterward, a person may feel tired, achy, or have some lingering anxiety. Generally, it is a good idea to do things that feel safe and restful during this time.Why do I have the freeze response? ›
situations (such as childhood abuse, natural disasters, unstable home life, etc.) the nervous system may be overwhelmed by the inability to eliminate or escape the threat and may move to the freeze response. This is a way of escaping without physically removing the body from the situation.How do I get out of freeze and fawn response? ›
- Increase Awareness of Your Emotions. If you struggle with the fawn response, it will be important to focus on increasing awareness of your emotions. ...
- Validate Yourself and Your Needs. ...
- Fade The Fawn Response and Develop Firm Boundaries.
That's what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is—our body's overreaction to a small response, and either stuck in fight and flight or shut down. People who experience trauma and the shutdown response usually feel shame around their inability to act, when their body did not move.Can you change your fight, flight freeze response? ›
Fight-flight-freeze isn't a conscious decision. It's an automatic reaction, so you can't control it.Why is my body stuck in fight or flight mode? ›
People with higher pain levels often experience heightened fight-or-flight responses, which throws the nervous system off-balance. Things like stress, pain, and lack of sleep trigger these responses. When we're stuck in fight-or-flight mode, our automatic functions stop working properly.How do you reset your nervous system? ›
A deep sigh is your body-brain's natural way to release tension and reset your nervous system. Simply breathe in fully, then breathe out fully, longer on the exhale. Studieshave shown that a deep sigh returns the autonomic nervous system from an over-activated sympathetic state to a more balanced parasympathetic state.Is freeze a response or ADHD? ›
ADHD paralysis happens when a person with ADHD is overwhelmed by their environment or the amount of information given. As a result, they freeze and aren't able to think or function effectively. This makes it challenging for the individual to focus and complete their tasks—including urgent ones.How long does freeze last? ›
The guidelines for freezer storage are for quality only—frozen foods stored continuously at 0 °F or below can be kept indefinitely.
According to the USDA, frozen foods are safe to eat indefinitely.Is PTSD a freeze response? ›
In fact, an overactive trauma response — getting stuck in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn, in other words — may happen as part of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).How long does it take to get out of fight or flight mode? ›
The stress response can be triggered in a single instant, but how quickly you calm down and return to your natural state is going to vary from person to person (and it will depend on what caused it). Typically, it takes 20 to 30 minutes for your body to return to normal and calm down.Is OCD a freeze response? ›
OCD begins as an experience of uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations. These experiences are then labeled as unwanted and threatening. Once labeled as such, the experience triggers fight-flight-freeze responses.How do you overcome the freeze response in children? ›
While your child is in fight, flight or freeze mode, help them to focus on their breathing. Regulating their breathing can help bring their “upstairs brain” back on board. Avoid using the words “calm down”. Instead, use “let's breathe” or “in through the nose, out through the mouth” or “you're okay, just breathe”.What childhood trauma causes fawn response? ›
What types of trauma cause the fawn response? The fawn response is most commonly associated with childhood trauma and complex trauma — types of trauma that arise from repeat events, such as abuse or childhood neglect — rather than single-event trauma, such as an accident.Is overthinking a trauma response? ›
Hyper-Rationality is a trauma response and coping strategy. Overthinking, over-analyzing, and over-rationalizing are coping strategies that we learned early on to help us make sense of an unpredictable environment that at some point made us feel unsafe.What does shutdown dissociation look like? ›
Eye contact is broken, the conversation comes to an abrupt halt, and clients can look frightened, “spacey,” or emotionally shut down. Clients often report feeling disconnected from the environment as well as their body sensations and can no longer accurately gauge the passage of time.What is shutdown dissociation? ›
Shutdown dissociation simulates central nervous system neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy describes the damage to the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral damage affects one or more dermatomes and thus produces symptoms for specific areas of the body.What is stage 4 PTSD? ›
In the fourth stage, you begin to enter into recovery from PTSD. It is called the “transition” stage because you begin to move into a new level of acceptance and understanding of what happened and how it has been affecting your life. This is the stage where healing finally starts to occur.
Freezing is not a passive state but rather a parasympathetic brake on the motor system, relevant to perception and action preparation. Study of these defensive responses in humans may advance insights into human stress-related psychopathologies characterized by rigidity in behavioural stress reactions.Is dissociation a freeze response? ›
A major feature of the experience of dissociation is the freeze response. Freezing is a state of immobility, i.e., the body stops moving.What are the symptoms of a freeze response? ›
- Physical immobility.
- Muscle tension.
- Heart rate fluctuations.
- Tunnel vision.
- High alertness.
High adrenaline levels
Studies have shown that people with PTSD have abnormal levels of stress hormones. Normally, when in danger, the body produces stress hormones like adrenaline to trigger a reaction in the body. This reaction, often known as the "fight or flight" reaction, helps to deaden the senses and dull pain.
The “freeze” response occurs when our brains decide we cannot take on the threat nor are we able to escape. Often when this happens our bodies might remain still, unable to move, numb or “freeze”. We may feel as if we are not actually a part of our bodies.What medication is used to turn off fight-or-flight? ›
Beta-blockers are a class of medication that helps control your body's fight-or-flight response and reduce its effects on your heart.What vitamin calms the nervous system? ›
Neurotropic B vitamins play crucial roles as coenzymes and beyond in the nervous system. Particularly vitamin B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) contribute essentially to the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.What calms nervous system? ›
Deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and certain medications can help to ease anxiety and nervousness. Sometimes, simply taking a break from whatever is causing the stress can be enough to help the nervous system relax.How do you reset your nervous system from trauma? ›
Mindful breathing, meditation and exercise are all methods you can try now to mitigate the effects of an overactive nervous system. If you choose to work with a therapist for assistance, they might use their knowledge of polyvagal theory to bring your body back to its natural state of healthy homeostasis.What is ADHD paralysis like? ›
People with ADHD can find tasks like complex projects or deciding between too many choices overwhelming, and often get distracted or find themselves avoiding tasks altogether when faced with stress. This feeling of overwhelm is often referred to as ADHD paralysis.
Differences in emotions in people with ADHD can lead to 'shutdowns', where someone is so overwhelmed with emotions that they space out, may find it hard to speak or move and may struggle to articulate what they are feeling until they can process their emotions.Is freeze permanent? ›
Account freezes are not permanent but generally require the account holder to take certain actions before they can be lifted. The freeze is typically lifted once the person has made payment in full to clear an outstanding debt to a creditor or the government.What is a hard freeze? ›
A hard freeze warning is issued when temperatures drop below 28 degrees for two or more hours. A hard freeze is a prompt to winterize your home as outdoor pipes or sprinkler systems can be damaged if not protected or drained. The growing season will end at these temperatures. 1.How quickly do you freeze? ›
At minus 30 F (minus 34 C), an otherwise healthy person who isn't properly dressed for the cold could experience hypothermia in as little as 10 minutes, Glatter said. At minus 40 to minus 50 F (minus 40 to minus 45 C), hypothermia can set in in just 5 to 7 minutes, he said.Can I eat 5 day old leftovers? ›
Leftovers can be kept for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. After that, the risk of food poisoning goes up. If you don't think you'll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them right away. Frozen leftovers will stay safe for a long time.Can a freeze go bad? ›
“Usually, frozen foods are safe indefinitely, but after a while, they won't taste as good once you thaw and cook them.” The ideal conditions for freezing food, whether it's raw or cooked, is 0 F (or -18 C), although Qassim says raw food lasts longer in a frozen state.What does freezer burn look like? ›
Most freezer burned food will develop ice crystals and its coloration may change, giving it an overall dull appearance. Meats often take on a gray-brown color and may look tough or leathery, while fruits and vegetables are visibly dry and shriveled.How do I get rid of hyperstimulation anxiety? ›
Whether it's with meditation or meditative movement techniques like Qigong, yoga, or other techniques that relax you, give yourself a break during the day to simply be. Research shows that activities that promote syncing movement with breath can be incredibly helpful in reducing low mood and anxiousness.How do you train your brain to stop fear response? ›
- Don't figure things out by yourself. ...
- Be real with how you feel. ...
- Be OK with some things being out of your control. ...
- Practice self-care. ...
- Be conscious of your intentions. ...
- Focus on positive thoughts. ...
- Practice mindfulness.
Are you always waiting for disaster to strike or excessively worried about things such as health, money, family, work, or school? If so, you may have a type of anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD can make daily life feel like a constant state of worry, fear, and dread.
Beta-blockers are a class of medication that helps control your body's fight-or-flight response and reduce its effects on your heart. Many people take beta-blockers to treat heart-related conditions, such as: high blood pressure.What medication is good for fight or flight anxiety? ›
Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour. That makes them very effective when taken during a panic attack or another overwhelming anxiety episode.What does hyperstimulation anxiety feel like? ›
Many anxiety disorder sufferers experience persistent trembling and shaking. These are just a few of the multitude of symptoms hyperstimulation can cause. In fact, every anxiety symptom is caused by either the stress response or stress-response hyperstimulation (when the body becomes chronically stressed).How long does stress response hyperstimulation last? ›
Depending on the degree of stress response, it may take anywhere from a few moments to 30 minutes or so for an active stress response to end.What vitamin deficiency causes fear? ›
People with anxiety and other psychiatric disorders tend to have lower vitamin D levels. Since nearly 50% of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency, the risk of developing associated anxiety is also relatively high. Vitamin C plays an essential role in mental health.How do you reset your amygdala? ›
You can do this by slowing down, taking deep breaths, and refocusing your thoughts. These steps allow your brain's frontal lobes to take over for the irrational amygdala. When this happens, you have control over your responses, and you won't be left feeling regret or embarrassment at your behavior.Why does my brain think things I don't want it to? ›
Intrusive thoughts are often triggered by stress or anxiety. They may also be a short-term problem brought on by biological factors, such as hormone shifts. For example, a woman might experience an uptick in intrusive thoughts after the birth of a child.How do I stop living in my head? ›
- Get ready to “go there” ...
- Be a storyteller, not an ruminator. ...
- Talk to a stranger. ...
- Deactivate the “Me Centers” of your brain by meditating. ...
- Focus on someone else. ...
- Learn what mindfulness really is.
Brain fog can be a symptom of a nutrient deficiency, sleep disorder, bacterial overgrowth from overconsumption of sugar, depression, or even a thyroid condition. Other common brain fog causes include eating too much and too often, inactivity, not getting enough sleep, chronic stress, and a poor diet.How do you calm chronic fight or flight? ›
- Eat well. Good nutrition is vital to reduce anxiety and your body's sensitive fight or flight response. ...
- Get Counseling. ...
- Get regular exercise. ...
- Concentrate on your senses. ...
- Breathe. ...
- Use positive self-talk. ...
- Use visualization techniques.
Since the fight or flight response underlies many of the symptoms common with panic disorder, researchers have investigated ways of taming this response.What medication helps with anger and impulse control? ›
SSRIs that have been shown to help with anger include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), among others. Sertraline seems to have the most supporting data. Other classes of antidepressants, like serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), aren't widely used for treating anger.