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Controlling an adrenaline rush

Updated November 21, 2016

Adrenalin rushes are thought to be leftover from the evolution of our "fight or flight" response. Even though they may be somewhat natural, however, adrenalin rushes can still be unpleasant. While they are sometimes unavoidable, there are ways of controlling and stopping an adrenalin rush while it is in progress. They may feel scary and you may feel like you are out of control; but you can learn to regain control and allow yourself to relax and feel better.

What Happens During an Adrenaline Rush

In certain stressful situations, the adrenal gland releases the hormone and neurotransmitter, adrenalin, into the bloodstream. When released, adrenalin gets the body ready to react quickly.

Adrenalin causes many physical reactions. The heart rate increases and pupils dilate. Less obvious, blood vessels constrict in the inner organs as more blood is sent to larger muscles. Also, more oxygen and glucose are sent to the brain.

Because of these reactions, the person experiencing the adrenalin rush may have symptoms similar to a panic attack--sweating, trouble breathing or shaking.

Events That Can Set Off a Reaction

Adrenalin rushes can be set off by suddenly frightening or highly stressful situations. They can come from something expected, fun and purposeful like a roller coaster ride or a bungee jump. They may come from something unexpected and upsetting like a sudden loud nose, a person appearing where they were not a moment before, or a driver in front of you on the road suddenly slamming on their brakes. A build-up of other stressors can also cause an adrenalin rush. Extended periods of stress or noise can also trigger an attack.

Ways to Stop the Rush

There are many methods that can be used to control an adrenalin rush.

General relaxation: By teaching your body to relax before an adrenalin rush happens, you can be ready to make your body relax when you feel an episode coming on. If you regularly practice breathing exercises or yoga, you can use those relaxation techniques should you feel an adrenalin rush coming on.

Cognitive Techniques: Since adrenalin rushes can be brought on by perceived danger, it can be helpful to learn how to think your way through the situation. By learning a bit about common cognitive distortions, you can determine what unrealistic thoughts may be causing the rush. When you can identify how your thought patterns are leading you to have an uncomfortable reaction, you can change your thought patterns and control the reaction.

General Stress Reduction: By keeping a healthy diet, exercising and being proactive about managing stress, you can lessen the chances of an adrenalin rush. When your body is in a healthy state and ready to handle stresses, it may be less likely to have an overreaction like an adrenalin rush.

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