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What are the ‘5 fs’ of stress and the way can we deal with them?

Stress presents itself in lots of types. Discover ways to spot and deal with it from each angle

If somebody is drowning, it’s nicely understood that individuals don’t essentially thrash – survival intuition kicks in, and so they can look calm to an untrained eye. But, after we’re metaphorically drowning in life, we overlook to use that precept.

If we may be taught to identify refined indicators of drowning in stress, we may actually change our relationship with it, and the way we could be there to assist one another.

I even have a narrative which actually epitomises this secret stress effervescent away. I used to be midway via a six-week hike, when a pleasant man approached me with some almonds. Regardless of his type intent, I shut down. I used to be weary, my physique was drained, and I used to be on the verge of quitting. Feeling out of types, in unfamiliar environment, I turned hyper-vigilant.

I keep in mind watching him take my hand and switch it round. I froze as he put nuts into it. My coronary heart pounded. I threw the almonds to the bottom and cried. Feeling incapacitated, already confused, in open land with little technique to get assist if I wanted to, my physique solely registered a risk.

Whereas we’re accustomed to the phrases struggle and flight – the response when confronted with hazard, making ready you for motion – there are literally 5 ‘fs’: struggle, flight, freeze, flop, and fawn. What occurred to me, on this occasion, was a mixture of freeze and flop.

So, how will you determine and deal with every ‘F’?


In struggle mode, you’re tackling issues head-on. Filled with adrenaline, your ideas take a again seat as your coronary heart charge will increase, pumping blood all through your physique. You may take extra dangers, like working right into a street to save lots of a baby. This could really feel primal. Pay attention to what’s occurring in your physique, and keep in mind to take a breath. Will probably be necessary so that you can take day trip after a interval of stress to let your physique settle and get better.


Issues don’t really feel like challenges to be tackled, however obstacles to be prevented. You’re feeling susceptible, tight in your chest and intestine, and instinctively wish to keep away from, run away, or retreat. You may be very conscious of the exit indicators in an enclosed house, and will even determine your escape routes prematurely. In case your sample is to flee, place your toes on the bottom and breathe deeply and slowly. Stick together with your discomfort, and permit it to go. This gives you time to discover your choices. What do you want to make this example much less disturbing?


You’re like a rabbit in headlights, and your toes really feel caught to the bottom. This could occur when escape isn’t attainable, as a result of working could result in a chase, or preventing again invitations extra assaults. On this state, it’s tough to make any selections, and generally you’ll be able to’t ask for assist since you don’t know what to ask for. It might probably additionally really feel like all of your senses are blocked, and all of your vitality is locked inside your physique with no means out. If this occurs to you, let the blankness in for some time; let or not it’s and don’t attempt to change it. Paradoxically, this can make it go. This may be useful in the event you’re acting on stage, and your thoughts goes clean.


You may faint, really feel dizzy, or dissociate – disconnecting out of your ideas, emotions, or sense of self to deal with the stress. This may be short-lived or final a very long time. If you realize you’re liable to black out or faint, strive letting individuals know prematurely so that they’re conscious to look out for you. In case you spot somebody in a predicament and so they seem in a state of flop, allow them to know you’re there, they’re secure, and place your hand out in order that they will take it in the event that they want to, giving them company.


This occurs if you transfer nearer to the risk inflicting you stress, as a result of that is what’s holding you secure. Generally, this could serve you nicely; different instances, you’ll be able to enter into eventualities you’d somewhat not be in. For instance, making you chunk off greater than you’ll be able to chew at work, otherwise you befriend someone you intuitively really feel uncomfortable round out of worry of displeasing them. It may be useful to ask your self this query prematurely: what penalty do you image for saying no? What are you able to deduce from this?

We aren’t all the time answerable for how our stress and responses to threats present up, however understanding that it’s your physique’s innate means of holding you secure will assist you address it higher.

Katerina Georgiou is a person and group gestalt psychotherapist, and writer of ‘Find out how to Perceive and Cope with Stress‘. Discover extra on the Counselling Listing.

Positive Recharge
Positive Recharge
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