No, Men and women do not deal with fight or flight the same way.
Understanding how the stress response in men and women differs is important to your physical health, mental health and healthy relationships as well.
There is a stress problem in the U.S. American society is stuck in a state of stress that leads to chronic, daily biological stress responses that are unhealthy when constant. (For stress reducing ideas from Dr. Lou, click HERE) Small doses of “fight or flight” are ok, the response is designed to save your life, but ongoing fight or flight is bad. Rather than being biologically programmed like men to prepare to fight and then run if fighting appears as though it would have a fatal outcome, women are biologically programmed to “Tend and Befriend”.
What does it mean to tend and befriend?
Initially women will turn to “tending” to someone or something. It may be an increased focus on attention or love given to a child. Greater than normal tending to a task like cleaning, something work related, organizing, or anything that allows one to control, organize or set something up for success. If the “tending” phase fails, they move on to befriending. This phase of the stress response involves reaching out to people that they know and trust, in an effort to talk and process the stress.
If you know someone who is clearly in a state of “tend & befriend”, but denies being stressed, you can help them. You can listen to them and guide them, or help them by sending them for help from a professional.
The dilemma in many of our lives is that men and women aren’t programmed to deal with stress the same way, in fact, much the opposite. If men are in the flight phase of dealing with stress, and women are in the befriend phase, the man is leaving and the woman wants to talk…If they do end up sitting down, they’ll get nowhere unless they are able to disengage their innate programming to deal with stress. Which, incidentally, as a protective mechanism is virtually impossible to do.
Being stuck in chronic fight or flight, also known as “sympathetic dominance” is extremely stressful on our immune system, our hearts, our blood pressure, our adrenal glands and hormone system. It can lead to depression, adrenal fatigue, insomnia and a host of other vulnerabilities and health problems.
Chiropractic adjustments of the sympathetic nervous system have been shown to calm and reboot the stress response in a significant way. In other words, chiropractic may help your body process and respond to stress by rebooting the nervous system!