Do you REACT or RESPOND to stressful situations?



Do you REACT or RESPOND to stressful situations?

We know from the Total Somatics online programs at that our mindset plays a huge role in our physical health. Check out my introductory video below and then let me develop this subject further.

Reacting or responding to life events are very different. Let me explain some basic neurophysiology as to what happens when we react or respond to a situation.

The Brainstem and Limbic System are two areas of our brain which are designed to notice and react to danger. Take for example many years ago, how danger impacted our ancestors, let’s consider the ‘cave man’. The cave man would want to run or fight that terrifying Sabertooth tiger approaching him, this would be normal as it is the ‘fight or flight’ reflex kicking in. These areas of the brain want to protect you from harm and so will fire up so you can react quickly to the situation.


The other area of the brain is the cortex. This area of the brain is all about emotional intelligence, learning, attachment, understanding, decision making and reasoning.

In modern day society, we find these three areas, the Brainstem, Limbic System and the Cortex are constantly working.

An example of when your brainstem and limbic system kick in and you become REACTIVE is when someone cuts you up in the traffic or somebody makes a critical remark to you. If you feel stressed, anxious, deprived of sleep, hungry, under pressure or irritated, you will find that the brainstem and limbic system will start to kick in and anything that happens to you, you find you are less tolerant and more reactive. This is not a great cycle to live in because continued levels in the “fight or flight” mode can lead to anxiety, depression, high levels of inflammation, weakened immune system and cardiac problems.

When you live in a cycle of being RESPONSIVE, your brain uses more of the cortex and so it is calm, content and caring. In the situation of the being cut up in the traffic by another car or on the receiving end of a critical remark, a responsive person acts differently. They are able to become objective and stand back from the situation. They are able to reason that the issue may not be about them but something else happening in that other person’s life. If the situation allows it, a responsive person may ask additional questions in the challenging situations rather than jump in with a reactive reply.

Basically Reacting is instinctual whereas Responding is a conscious choice. If you practice Mindfulness with Total Somatics ( you know the skills we develop to heighten our conscious awareness will help in this area. When something happens, our body will always want to react, but the skill (which takes regular practise) is to resist doing anything reactive. Instead use your Pre-frontal cortex which is your higher or emotional intelligence and consider the options, possible outcomes of behaving in a certain manner, who you want to be and what will be in the best interest for you and the situation. Then decide to RESPOND to the situation. Once you start developing these check points, you’ll notice how it becomes second nature. You’ll see how much more calm, centred and controlled you feel.

I develop the area of mindset, emotional intelligence and how they work with daily Somatics practise with my online programs at The programs are self paced and can be performed in the comfort of your own home.

For more information on Mindset and how we can develop a more somatic or holistic attitude to our physical, mental and emotional health, check out my blog by clicking the link below:

For more information on the close relationship between stress and inflammation, check out my blog by clicking the link below:

So although this is the last of the “Somatic in September” series for this year, always refer back to these videos, audios and additional reading material any time of the year. My wish is to make Somatics become part of your lifestyle. When you develop a somatic lifestyle, you start to notice how it impacts positively on all areas of your life.

Join me today at and together we will start to increase your mobility, improve your posture, reduce pain and switch your mindset so you can take active control of feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed with life.

Take care,

Heidi Hadley xx



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