Ultimate You Change Centre

Fight or Flight: How our body respond to environment


In relation to the health of your body, we can no longer deny the importance of our state of mind, our food choices and how we move our body.

What I find quite interesting is your amazing ability to adapt to changing situations and environments. This ability to deal with potentially stressful or dangerous situations is commonly called the fight or flight response. It’s designed to be a short term response, giving you enough time to change your circumstances and distance yourself from the potential threat. But what could happen if you were forcing your body to be in this survival state for long periods of time? Could it affect your health?

92816298Let me introduce you to the concept of allostasis, the ongoing adaptive efforts of the body to maintain stability in response to environmental stressors.

In this concept the body’s ‘set points’ may change based on the demands of the environment. Set points like resting heart rate, breathing rate, hormone levels and metabolic activity. For example, if we measured your oxygen saturation levels at sea level compared to altitude, they would be very different. Both normal for each environment, however if we look purely at the numbers without considering the environment, it could be possible to inaccurately diagnose an illness, instead of an intelligent adaptation to the demands of the environment.

These days there are a wide variety of physical, chemical, emotional and electromagnetic demands our environment places on our bodies. Can you think of one month where there has been no stress on your body at all?


Allostaic load: The price the body pays over long periods of time for adapting to challenges.

Think of it like a backpack. When you are born you are given a backpack to carry with you every day of your life. Along the way you collect little rocks (life challenges and lifestyle stress). As life goes on you collect more and more little rocks, each time adding to your collection. By the time you notice your backpack getting heavy you may have collected enough rocks that your body is starting to show you signs of fatigue. But life doesn’t stop and you keep on going collecting little rocks, before you know it you are buckling under the heavy load of a lifetime of accumulated stress and allostaic load.

If you would like to find out more about managing the impacts of stress, how eating well, moving well and thinking well could work for you, then we would like to invite you to our living balance workshops.