If Fear Paralysis & Moro reflexes remain active we can struggle to manage our emotions throughout childhood and into our adult lives
Our first reflex to emerge is Fear Paralysis and this emerges at 5 weeks in utero, so very early during pregnancy. The movements that baby makes in those early weeks of pregnancy are important for Fear Paralysis to integrate. If retained, Fear Paralysis can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, insecurity or shyness, we can fear social embarrassment and can have OCD tendencies and we can have a heightened sense of smell.
We tend to find that if Fear Paralysis is retained then Moro can also be retained (they tend to go hand in hand). Moro is the baby startle reflex which more people are familiar with. If retained, Moro can lead to oversensitivity to sound, light, taste and touch, sweet tooth, poor endurance/stamina, emotional outbursts/anger, difficulty interacting with peers, and constant inner stress to name a few!
Anxiety and anger are probably the most talked about emotions when it comes to emotional regulation and they can be so very difficult to manage for children and adults alike.
When we are triggered by something in our environment that our bodies perceive to be dangerous or a threat to us, we produce hormones which are capable of changing our physiological state into fight or flight. This is so that we can fight the threat or run away from the threat, but problems arise when our our fight/flight response is activated when there is no real danger to us. And the more we are in fight or flight, the quicker we are to be triggered, so the triggers can become less and less obvious to others.
The fight part of fight or flight is where the anger and frustration shows, whereas flight is more about anxiety. It is important to try to remember is that the fight or flight response is completely outside of our control - it happens instantaneously and it is far away from our consciousness. So, it is important to try to remain as calm as possible when trying to help someone who is out of control.
Sound is very much capable of triggering us into fight or flight, but there can be many other triggers and they can be different for everyone. What's particularly difficult is the person may not realise something is triggering them, and all of a sudden they find themselves becoming dysregulated* and losing control. *Dysregulation is the poor ability to manage emotional responses or to keep them within an acceptable range of typical emotional reactions.
If dysregulation without an obvious trigger appears to be happening in your relationships, keep a diary of the dysregulation and what was going on in the environment before the dysregulation. Triggers are different for everyone - for one person it might be a constant background noise, for another it might be a sudden loud noise, and for another it might be something that is not even sound related. You then may be able to identify a pattern and identify the trigger which then can hopefully can be avoided.
Fight or flight can also lead to OCD behaviours, because we are trying to control our world in order to keep us safe.
Children and adults can find themselves going into a freeze state, which is where we feel depressed and isolated and we are unable get on with daily life.
There are many therapies that can help such as CBT or NLP, however to my mind how can these work if the physiological response has not been addressed?
This is where Primitive Reflex Integration comes in....if we have a retained Fear Paralysis reflex we could be anxious, have low self-esteem, be insecure and/or shy, fear social embarrassment, and may be oversensitive to smells (particularly coffee and perfume). A retained Fear Paralysis often goes hand in hand with a retained Moro reflex which can lead us to be oversensitive to sound, light, taste and touch, have emotional outbursts, more likely to get into conflicts and have problems interacting with peers. With these reflexes retained we are constantly on the look out for danger and can be hypervigilant and can easily be triggered into fight or flight.
Sound is also so very important when it comes to our physiological state: if we are sensitive to sound - and that can be a sudden loud sound, a constant background sound, or problems with hearing because of background noise - then this can be enough to trigger us into fight or flight. This is where the Safe & Sound Protocol comes in....it trains the muscles of the middle ear so that we are no longer oversensitive to sound, which calms our physiological state and helps us to become more open to social engagement (because we feel safe).
These two therapies are key in helping children and adults with problems with emotional regulation and can really help make life easier.
brain & body boost specialises in helping children and adults with problems with emotional regulation including anxiety & anger whilst also helping with low self-esteem, insecurity, shyness, separation anxiety, difficulty interacting with peers, and problems with sensory processing [often a trigger for emotional dysregulation]
Get in touch if you would like to find out more about how brain & body boost can help make life easier...
Sit cross legged on the floor (or wherever poss!) and rock with your child side to side or back and forth or round - this is REALLY calming and perfect for reducing anxiety
Palm of your hand on your child's forehead and the other palm on the back of the head with thumb at the hairline and just hold - it's really calming....try it on yourself! Brilliant for anxiety
Square or box breathing: slowly exhale through mouth, slowly inhale through nose (count of 4), hold breath (count of 4), slowly exhale through mouth (count of 4), hold (count of 4)...and repeat
Cosmic Yoga is great for younger kids and standard Yoga for adults, but any form of movement is great - exercise gives our bodies a chance to break down the excess stress hormones to reduce anxiety
Taking a cold shower or splashing face with cold water or holding a hot water bottle can help or even a hot bath...if anxiety sets in, it always works for me!
Gargling with water for long periods - work towards 1 minute for stimulating the vagus nerve and helping with anxiety