What Would a Navy SEAL Do?
We've all commented at one point or another about having a stressful day.
Just imagine the lives of those fighting the "front lines" of this current global pandemic...
But most of us don't have a clue as to how debilitating stress can be, especially in survival situations.
The stress we experience when confronted with a life-threatening situation is entirely different from the stress we experience on a daily basis.
Physiologically, here's what happens: A part of the brain called the hypothalamus triggers the release of stress-response hormones, including adrenaline, into the bloodstream.
Another stress-response hormone that is released is the steroid-like cortisol, which is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. This hormone increases energy and metabolic efficiency and helps regulate blood pressure.
Simultaneously, blood is being diverted away from the brain and skin to the muscles to maximize the chances of survival.
Your brain now has "tunnel vision," focusing on nothing but doing what it must to survive. You are a rocket ship on the launch pad – what's next?
This is where all your physical and mental preparation pays off. You must learn to utilize this acute stress response instead of being overwhelmed by it.
Although heightened stress levels are a natural reaction to emergency situations, it is important to control these levels. If you allow them to elevate too rapidly, your body will quickly go from a ready-to-respond mode to a worthless state called "lockup."
As I've said before, humans have three acute stress responses when confronted with a potentially life-threatening situation: fight, flight or freeze. These survival tools are found in all species, from spiders and cockroaches to primates and people.
How you react is totally based on the situation. If I'm robbed at gunpoint and I'm by myself, I'm probably going to fight.
However, if I'm with my family or there is a larger group of shoppers in the immediate area, I'm going to attempt to de-escalate the situation and hand over my wallet to prevent any injury or death to bystanders.
Take It From Me
I really can't make a stronger recommendation than for people to go out and learn basic first-aid and medical skills. I became a Nationally Certified EMT several years ago and you wouldn't believe the number of times I've actually used these skills.
Some time before quarantine, I came upon an intersection where a pedestrian had just been run over by a car. A small crowd had formed by the time I approached and everyone was just staring at the seemingly lifeless, bleeding body. No one was moving, they were all completely frozen.
I immediately began pointing at individuals and giving them very simple tasks.
Suddenly, the spell was broken. People set about doing their tasks as I worked on the injured pedestrian. Long story, short: He left the scene with a pulse and breathing.
The actions I took were actions anyone in that crowd could have initiated, but didn't because their untrained instinct was to freeze.
But with the "new world" we are living in – our freeze mindset has to be deleted!
So here's my verdict on the three stress responses:
- FREEZE is no longer an option.
- FLIGHT all depends on the situation and can be a very smart response.
- FIGHT is something you MUST be capable of if the situation warrants it.
If You Have the Time – TAKE IT!
This was one of the very best pieces of advice I got early on in my time in the SEAL Teams. Let me explain: The above situations required an immediate response. But if you find yourself in a situation where you have time to respond, then use it.
Use the Rule of 3. Quite simply come up with three options and only three options. Weigh the pros and cons of each option, then go with one.
"The worst decision is making no decision, go with your gut and if you have to modify it, then you do that." – SEAL Team 2 Platoon Chief
Citizens, we now live in a world where taking the situation head on and with what we in the SEAL teams call "violence of action" (150% effort) is often necessary.
This is what you need to physically and perhaps more importantly, mentally prepare yourself to be willing to do.
Be a survivor... not a statistic,
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor