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Why Do I Feel Stuck and Scared All the Time? How to Overcome the Freeze Response

Have you ever felt frozen in fear, unable to move or think clearly? Do you find yourself stuck in situations where you can't seem to take action, even though you desperately want to? You're not alone. Many people experience this overwhelming sense of being stuck, which can make everyday life feel like a struggle. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19% of U.S. adults had an anxiety disorder in the past year, and these feelings of paralysis often accompany anxiety. This blog will explore why we feel stuck and scared and provide practical steps to help you move forward.

Recognizing the Roadblocks: Why Am I Stuck?

Imagine Emily, who recently experienced a traumatic car accident. Now, every time she gets into a car, she feels her body tense up, her muscles lock, and her mind goes blank. She wants to drive again but feels paralyzed by fear. "Why can't I just drive like I used to?" she wonders.

Or think about Mike, who has a big presentation at work. He knows his material well, but as the day approaches, he feels more and more anxious. On the day of the presentation, he freezes up, unable to speak or even think clearly. "Why do I always freeze when it matters most?" he asks himself.

These scenarios highlight the freeze response, a common reaction to perceived threats. When we experience or perceive danger, our bodies prepare to fight, flee, or freeze. While fight or flight responses are more about action, the freeze response leaves us stuck and unable to act.

The Invisible Chains: Common Barriers to Moving Forward

One major barrier to overcoming the freeze response is the body's automatic reaction to perceived threats. When our brains detect danger, they trigger a response that prepares us to either run away or defend ourselves. But when escape or defense seems impossible, our muscles lock, and we freeze.

Consider Sarah, who experienced verbal abuse at home. Now, as an adult, she freezes whenever someone raises their voice. Her body remembers the threat and reacts by shutting down, making it hard for her to respond effectively.

Another barrier is the lack of understanding and support from others. People who haven't experienced the freeze response may not understand why it happens and might offer unhelpful advice like "just relax" or "try harder."

Michael, for example, faced bullying at school. Now, whenever he’s in a confrontational situation, he freezes. His friends don’t understand why he can’t stand up for himself and think he just needs to be braver. This lack of understanding makes him feel even more isolated and stuck.

These invisible chains keep us from moving forward. The first step to breaking free is recognizing these barriers and understanding how they impact our lives.

Unveiling the Path: Understanding the Freeze Response

The next step is to understand that overcoming the freeze response requires awareness and gentle, gradual progress. As the script explains, "When we experience, when we perceive danger in our environment, our bodies start to tune up to then to prepare us to flee or to fight." But when fleeing or fighting isn't an option, our bodies lock into a freeze response.

Dr. Peter Levine, a renowned trauma expert, emphasizes the importance of releasing this locked energy slowly and gently. He explains, "Therapeutically, the energy of the fight or flight response is actually locked in those frozen muscles. What we have to do when we're working with somebody in the freeze response is to help them access that locked-in energy one small amount at a time."

Taking the Steps: Practical Guide to Overcoming the Freeze Response

Now that you understand the importance of awareness and gentle progress, it’s time to take practical steps to overcome the freeze response. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your fear and paralysis without judgment. It's okay to feel stuck.

  2. Identify Triggers: Reflect on situations or experiences that trigger your freeze response. Understanding these triggers can help you anticipate and manage your reactions.

  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend. Remind yourself that the freeze response is a natural reaction to perceived threats.

  4. Seek Professional Help: Consider working with a therapist who specializes in trauma and anxiety. They can provide you with tools and techniques to manage your symptoms and begin the healing process.

  5. Build a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people. This could be friends, family, or support groups who can offer empathy and encouragement.

  6. Engage in Mindfulness Practices: Mindfulness can help you stay present and reduce feelings of paralysis. Practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to calm your mind and body.

  7. Gradual Exposure: Gradually expose yourself to the situations that trigger your freeze response. Start with small steps and slowly increase the level of exposure as you become more comfortable.

  8. Physical Movement: Engage in physical activities that help release the tension in your muscles. This could include exercises like stretching, walking, or dancing.

Inspiring Change: Cultivating a Strong Desire for Healing

Building a strong desire for healing is crucial for staying motivated. Here are some ways to cultivate this desire:

  • Visualize Your Success: Spend a few minutes each day visualizing yourself overcoming the freeze response. Imagine how you will feel and what you will do.

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. This builds confidence and keeps you motivated.

  • Focus on Your Well-being: Pay attention to how your body and mind feel as you make progress. Use this positive feedback to stay motivated.

  • Learn from Role Models: Look up to people who have overcome the freeze response. Learn from their experiences and be inspired by their journey.

Consider the story of Jessica, who struggled with the freeze response after a traumatic event. By seeking therapy, building a support system, and practicing gradual exposure, she gradually began to regain her ability to respond effectively in stressful situations. Over time, she realized that overcoming the freeze response is possible and that she deserves to feel in control and confident. Jessica’s story shows that with the right mindset and persistence, you can overcome the freeze response and live a fulfilling life.

Expert Insights: Wisdom from Dr. Peter Gagliardo

Dr. Peter Gagliardo from Worcester Holistic Health & Wellness offers valuable insights into overcoming the freeze response and achieving wellness. With over 20 years of experience in holistic health, Dr. Gagliardo has helped many individuals heal and regain a sense of control.

"Healing from the freeze response requires understanding, patience, and self-compassion. By seeking support and practicing mindfulness, you can begin to heal and feel more in control of your reactions. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection," says Dr. Gagliardo. His holistic approach emphasizes the importance of mental, physical, and emotional well-being in achieving overall success.

Ready to Overcome the Freeze Response? Take the First Step

Are you ready to overcome the freeze response and regain a sense of control? Don’t wait any longer. Schedule a free discovery session with Dr. Peter Gagliardo at Worcester Holistic Health & Wellness. Visit to book your session today. Embrace the power of healing and take control of your future.

Overcoming the freeze response and regaining a sense of control is a journey that requires understanding, patience, and practice. By recognizing your barriers, taking practical steps, and building the desire for healing, you can overcome any challenge and achieve your goals. Remember, the journey to healing is ongoing. With persistence, support, and the right mindset, you can overcome any obstacle and live a fulfilling, freeze-free life.

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