Your nervous system can become stuck in a functional freeze state after living with chronic stress or stored trauma for months, years, and even decades.
This happens due to an imbalance of your sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of your nervous system. Typically, these two branches regulate your body's response to stressors and help maintain a balance between arousal and relaxation. In a freeze state however, these two branches aren't functioning harmoniously, and your parasympathetic branch becomes overly activated.
But unlike being stuck in a freeze state, being stuck in a functional freeze state allows you to remain functional in your day-to-day life. In a functional freeze, you're still able to go to work or take care of your family but after you're done with what's critically important, you crash into a state of numbness, exhaustion, and disassociation.
Some Signs & Symptoms You're Stuck In Functional Freeze
- Social withdrawal
- constant overwhelm
- Frequent stomachaches
- Cancelling plans regularly
- Not texting people back
- Feeling immobile and stuck
- Sensory sensitivyty
- Slumped posture
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling like you're just existing
- Loss of your sense of time
- Sitting in your car for 10+ minutes after parking
- Sitting in a towel and you can't get dressed after a shower
- Bed rotting
- Being on autopilot
- Spacing out
- Brain fog
How To Get Out Of Functional Freeze
You can get out of a functional freeze with somatic exercises.
Somatic exercises help your nervous system regulate itself by directly engaging with your body's physiological responses to stress. These gentle movements provide a pathway to restore balance so your sympathetic and parasympathetic branches can function harmoniously again.
By doing just 10-15 minutes a day of somatic exercises, you'll work to stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, which will counterbalance the effects of being stuck in your parasympathetic nervous system and get your body out of a functional freeze state.