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Feeling Petrified


Feeling petrified. Stuck. Having a belief like you cannot move forward. When faced with making adjustments in your life or when changes are not in your plans but are happening anyway, people can respond in many ways. Many people know about the parasympathetic nervous system and have heard of the fight or flight response, but some are not as aware that there is another natural response to extreme stress known as the freeze response. When one cannot escape the potentially traumatic stressor by either fighting or fleeing, we humans will then brace for impact, and this is the freeze response. In a moment of acute stress, this could be the inability to move at all or someone may numb out. This is normal and can be helpful in the moment. But with chronic stress there can be a pattern of freezing that looks like the inability to move forward, unable to make decisions, feeling like there are no options, an intense aversion to change, or other similar reactions. These symptoms are often accompanied by shallow breathing, racing or stagnant thinking, heaviness, sense of dread, desire to control, and/or fast heart rate.


If this is such a natural and unconscious process, how do we find a new path, get back on a path, or figure out the new terrain? Well it may be able to be done one step at a time. Sometimes the tiniest step can help propel ourselves forward. If you don’t like your job, review your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, or look online to see what options you have. You want to start dating but have been avoiding it, you can ask a friend to help you set up an online account, go to an event that is around something you enjoy, or strike up a lighthearted conversation with someone at a coffee shop. Feeling disconnected from others and alone, go for a walk and send positive messages to people you walk by like “may you be happy” or reach out to a friend. Taking action when you feel paralyzed moves you forward, even if it is just the smallest of shifts ahead.


If even the smallest of steps seems overwhelming, there are things you can do to help yourself feel grounded again and this may help alleviate that feeling of being stuck.


  • Take some deep breathes to help you ease some of the heaviness. As discussed above, when you are in this state, you will automatically take really shallow breathes. Taking deep breathes will allow this stress response to ease.

  • Taking moments to feel your feet on the ground can help you feel more present and connected. If you are able to, actually finding a patch of grass and standing barefoot on the Earth can decrease stress.

  • Meditation can be used to feel more present. If the idea of sitting down and meditating makes your stomach tighten, try some other techniques like using a mantra, going for a walk and focus on your senses, or using an app for guided mediations.

Whatever the form is, taking any action steps can allow you to start to break free from the weight of feeling unable to move forward. And if you continue to battle these feelings of paralysis, you can seek help. Feel free to reach out to us at Enlightened Vibrations for additional assistance.

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