Deflated yellow smiley face balloon lying on the ground.

It's normal to feel sad or stressed every now and again. However, if it becomes a constant state of being for you, it's time to talk to someone.

If there is something upsetting going on in your life or you and your family are experiencing financial or emotional difficulties, it’s only natural that you would feel sad or stressed about the situation. 

However, sometimes, you may feel sad or down even when everything seems to be going just fine in your life. 

When this happens, it can ironically be even more difficult to open up to someone because you believe they won’t understand where you’re coming from. You might think:

  • What right do I have to feel this way when there is nothing actually wrong in my life?

  • Why do I feel like this when there are others going through so much worse and deal with it so much better than me?

  • My family will think I’m ungrateful or a ‘drama queen’

  • My friends will think I’m negative for no reason and won’t want to spend time with me

  • I don’t want to call Childline when there is someone out there who needs them more than I do

  • Nobody cares about how I’m feeling

Fight – Flight – Freeze

When you are going through a rough patch, anxiety doesn’t help. Our brains can react to high levels of anxiety in three different ways: fight-flight-freeze. These responses instantly cause hormonal and physiological changes which allow us to act quickly so we can protect ourselves. It’s a survival instinct that our ancient ancestors developed many years ago. 

Specifically, fight-or-flight is an active defence response where you fight or flee. Your heart rate increases which in turn increases oxygen flow to your major muscles. Your pain perception drops, and your hearing sharpens. These changes help you act appropriately and rapidly. 

Freezing is fight-or-flight on hold, where you further prepare to protect yourself. It’s also called reactive immobility or attentive immobility. It involves similar physiological changes, but instead, you stay completely still and get ready for the next move. 

The fight-flight-freeze response isn’t a decision we make consciously. It’s an automatic reaction, so we can’t control it. 

Reach out

Even if it feels like you’ve already talked to everyone – friends, family, teachers and nothing has helped – try not to be discouraged. By taking action, you’re showing yourself that you don’t want to stay like this forever and you are looking for ways to improve your everyday life. 

When dealing with stress and anxiety there are various things that can help us feel better such as learning to self-regulate. We do this by:

  • exercising
  • using breathing techniques
  • learning what triggers these feelings
  • managing our anxiety and stress before it escalates

Doing these things can make you feel in control and calmer. Having a good support network you can rely on can provide a sense of safety and protection which will make you feel less fearful and alone.

If you’re in a constant state of fight-or-flight, consider visiting a mental health professional. Specifically, if you experience the following:

  • always feeling “on edge”
  • persistent worry
  • nervousness or fear
  • stress that interferes with daily activities
  • fear of nonthreatening situations and inability to relax. 

A mental health professional can help you determine the underlying cause of these feelings. They can also create a plan to reduce your stress response, depending on your symptoms and mental health history. 

You are not a burden.

You have the right to be heard and supported.

And remember, Childline is ALWAYS here for you when you need to talk.  You can contact us at any time of the day or night for any reason to discuss anything that’s on your mind.


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