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How To Overcome The Freeze Response


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Have you ever noticed your brain’s reaction when awful things happen? That is known as the freeze response. It is an instinctive reaction to frightening or upsetting situations - or at least the perception of imminent peril. 

But, what I always say to everyone is that this isn’t your fault. Rather, it is your brain which, when faced with threatening situations, decides to freeze. And naturally, your body follows suit when your brain decides that running away or fighting back is of no use, and surrendering is the best option. 

Do you experience hot flushes, nausea, dyspnea, thumping in the heart, stiffening or tensions in the muscles? You might also find difficulty in breathing, tingling in toes, or any similar changes in your body, because your brain probably triggered the freeze response due to stress. 

There isn’t much that you can do to prevent the freeze response, but there are some tricks to overcoming it. Here’s my advice on how you can do just that, and be in better control of your mind and body: 

#1 Identifying the signals - If your brain triggers a freeze response more often than not, then you must try to recognize those signs. This will help you calm yourself and prevent freezing even before it occurs. Once you recognize the signals, it will be easy to control your reaction. 

#2 Deep breathing - If you are facing a threatening or uncomfortable situation that will trigger the freeze response, then take deep breaths. This will halt the freeze reaction and allow you to regain control over your body. 

#3 Practice Grounding skills - Grounding practices will allow you to reconnect with your senses. It will also empower you to be present rather than freezing in distressing situations which cause anxiety and stress.

#4 Allow yourself to be patient - The freeze response isn’t in your control and it is the brain that usually triggers this. So, you must not put the blame on yourself. You must keep reminding yourself that it is the brain. At times, meditating might help you in these uncontrollable situations. 

#5 Seek professional help - If you have been through a series of traumatic episodes, then you are more likely to be a victim of the freeze response. And since this is not entirely in your control, I suggest you seek professional help. You must visit a good psychologist who will help you with the freeze response through various therapies.

Do you have a problem with freeze response? What steps do you take to overcome it? 

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I only ever had this happen to me once. It was when I was riding my bike with a friend and we were crossing the road. I didn't see the car coming. The woman thankfully slammed on her breaks. I froze up and felt my life flash before my eyes. I snapped out of it and quickly apologized to her as I could imagine I really scared her. 

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I can't say I ever have experienced this but I have heard from others who have. 

I also have seen it in TV shows and movies. I feel like this is the one thing we seem to have in common with deer. They always freeze in the middle of the road when a car is about to hit them. 

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