The 5 stress types

The 5 stress types: Fight, Flight Freeze, Fawn, and social stress


This text is built on biological principles that we have all learned in school – fight, flight, and freeze. It is put into a new context namely how these principles relate to the modern life where is safe in most parts of the world. But our instincts do not know that. So if you are like most people you live a life where you are in constant stress.

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It is important to find your stress type. It helps you get more aware of your body, your behavior, and how to stop the stress.

You all know the stress types Fight, Flight, and freeze. There is another one called Fawn. They all have mild and extreme forms. 

If you were a car you could consider them as gears to drive in that have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation you are in.

If we keep the analogy with the gears, you also have a couple of other stress gears: Alarm and peace.

We all have all gears, but happenings in your past might have “learned” your body to go faster to one or two gears.

Now this here I am still investigating, so it is not carved in stone:

The characteristics of each gear are mentioned below.

To top it up you have your sleep gear. If you are too stressed you cannot sleep or can get nightmares. so sleep plays an important role in this.

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If you are living in a country with no wars and you get your food every day you ought to be in this gear most of the time.

You are calm and take every situation and do what is needed without any bad feelings. Your body is healthy and if you get any signals that contradict this you take proper action to get back to normal.

The body is healthy and always has the capacity to heal as you do not have any stress that takes away the natural process o of the healthy body.

You do not have any old trauma or bad memories that make you misinterpret a situation. You meet new people with an open mind – there is nothing to be afraid of.


Your senses make you alert. You heard a noise, saw a shadow, touched something, saw an angry face. It is pure instinct.

Hopefully, your body categorized it as “OK” and you go back into the peace gear.

If not one of the stress gear is activated and in seconds an instinctive decision is taken.

Is it time to accelerate into a stress gear or go back to peace gear again.

You probably have a favorite stress gear that you use more often than the others. This is based upon your previous experience.
See the characteristics below


You get filled with adrenaline ready to fight for your life and family. Attack the enemy and close the deal. When your surroundings are cleared you go back to peace.
But nowadays we are taught not to fight. So, the stress is not used and stay for long in our body.
Fight stress response is also used if you have a big goal to achieve. You are fighting to reach your goal. You can do a little more and do it better and better. Use a little more time and raise the bar for the quality. Maybe you sacrifice something for this sake. You down prioritize other things and struggles. Spending more and more time on this project and other important things are having smaller and smaller timeslots (family, health, sleep, healthy food).


When the alarm gear “decides” that the enemy is too big for you to fight you run, run until you are home in safe surroundings, and then settle back into peace.
But nowadays it is not OK to run. You are considered a coward and you know from experience, that e.g. you do not run from your manager, or from being the one making the speech at a birthday. The adrenaline is not used in your body and takes a long time before it leaves your body.
It is found in a light version too. You are running around to do more things in a shorter time. I can do one more thing before I stop (and collect the kids, go to bed, go home). Very effectively using the time. Thinking ahead, having a tight schedule.


You instinctively decide that there is no way you can fight the enemy, no chance to run to a safe place. Then you go to the oldest defense gear: Fainting with the hope that the enemy does not detect you or decide to leave you and pick you up the next day. This gear is shutting down a lot of the body’s functions to fuel the enemy – they think you are dead. And worst case you cannot feel pain if the enemy decides to eat you.
The light version of this is that you hide behind a tree with some of the Freeze symptoms: shallow breathing, no motion, no voice, cold skin to prevent smells.
And in a modern version, you do not need a tree to hide behind to get into this gear.


With an open mind, you embrace the situation. Let things happen without interacting.  You have good faith in other people and your own body.
In the modern version you are the type that says:

  • Let us see what time brings us
  • Nothing wrong with me
  • I have trust in other people

If you are having problems you do not look for help. You surrender to the situation and listen to the doctor’s advice. You are sure you get the best help. And do not bother to read about the side effects of your medication.
If you get more symptoms you are sure it is part of the disease.

Biologically this means that our mental state is as good as possible even the situation is stressed. You do not freak out and waste energy when you are captured without obvious possibilities to escape the situation.

Social stress

Being together with people can be a pleasure or the opposite. As a social animal, we are born to be, we are in constant awareness about other people’s reactions and feelings towards you and others.
How sensitive you are to this dimension depends on your past and your self-confidence.

there are hundreds of feelings that originally should help you to stay in the heard and help you survive.
If you every day get a cocktail of feelings due to you being surrounded by people at home or at your work it can stress you as well.
Guilt, jealousy, anger, regret is just a few. This kind of feeling is meant to keep you in the heard and make you stick to the rules.

If you are not in a group it is loneliness, fear, unsafe feelings that can haunt you. These feelings will guide you to find a group that can protect you.
There is nothing wrong with these feelings, but they can be exhausting and overwhelming if you have too many and give you stress and diseases as well


The body is recreating and sorting out important from unimportant information’s from the day before – and a lot more. It is lifesaving to sleep 6-8 hours a day in long uninterrupted intervals. There is a lot of new science in this field.

You can consider your sleep, from you decide to fall asleep and until you wake up a as a result of

  • Your stress the day before
  • Your past traumas and bad memories
  • The worries you have about the future

It can be difficult to fall as

All 6 gears

We all use all gear every day.

Most of the time you must be in peace to avoid being ill or diseased. Too many years using the stress gears will harm your body. and it is only in the peace gear you can heal using the placebo effect, as it is only from here your body produces the good hormones dopamine and serotonin.

For a long time using adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones make you capable of fighting and running without the sensation of what you need and feel. When you get older you cannot cope with it and you get stressed, ill or depressed.

I think that certain diseases are associated with different stress gears. But each of us has our unique combination of how we use this stress gears, so it will take decades to reveal if I am right. 

How to get out of a stress type and spending more and more time in peace.
Here is some useful help:

  • Realize you are not in peace all the time.
  • Do more things where you feel in peace.
  • Observe yourself and find the situations that stress you the most.
    say to your self the next time you are in this situation:

    • “I do not have to fight”.
    • “I do not have to run”.
    • “I am in no life-threatening situations now”.
    • “My body tells me I have to act now”.
  • Find the root cause of the stress.
  • Eliminate the reason for your stress. You can do this in 1000 different ways.
  • Do not avoid healthy situations that most people find pleasure in. Find the root cause and eliminate the stress.

I, of course, recommend removing traumas in your life, because I know it works.

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