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The Adrenaline Response

The adrenaline response, also known the ‘fight or flight’ response, is a hormone (adrenaline) release from the adrenal glands in response to stressful or dangerous situations. This release of adrenalin gives us a boost to act quickly. It can also cause feelings of distress, anxiety and feeling unwell. The aim of this release is to help you face dangerous situations and be ready to “fight or flight”.

How does it affect piercing?

When preparing for your appointment, and actually waiting to get pierced, a lot of people can be worried or anxious thinking about the pain, especially when you don’t know what to expect. The adrenaline response can be triggered by these thoughts of anxiety or stress in response to physical harm of the body (even though we decided to do this, these thoughts are completely normal and valid). This response often has physical presenting symptoms on the body, including.

A diagram showing the reactions and symptoms of the adrenalin release.

In this situation though, the release of adrenalin isn’t always helpful! Running away (fight) won’t necessarily help, and we definitely don’t recommend trying to fight your piercer! So we implement techniques during your time with us to help manage these symptoms. First of all, we learn what the signs and symptoms can be (see above diagram) and figure out the best way to help you. We have sweets on hand to help with blood sugars, as well as cool water and compresses on hand to help with body temperature. We also help prepare you for the piercing by focusing on breathing techniques. We get you to focus on the ‘in and out’ of breathing, slowing it down, and releasing on the ‘push’ of the needle. By doing this, we can shift the focus from the anxiety, and help ‘rebalance’ the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide we might have from the temporary imbalance we might have caused from shallower breathing.

Even though these feelings can be scary and unpleasant, they are not dangerous. You are also in the hands of safe professionals who are prepared for all of this! And despite how cool you may think your piercer is, we still get nervous too! Yes, even when we get pierced!

So why do I feel weird after the piercing?

This is the adrenaline rush to help you manage the pain. Because your body senses a heightened emotion, your adrenal glands create a quick release of adrenaline into your bloodstream to help manage the pain you are feeling. It is your own body’s way of creating it’s own distraction technique from the pain and sensations you are feeling by increasing mental stimulation. The adrenaline also dampens the pain response in your nervous system so you won’t get slowed down by your injuries (the fight or flight response!).

It’s not just fear and pain that can spike your adrenaline, it can also be excitement! For example, some people enjoy dangerous sports or rollercoasters because of the ‘thrill’ they get from it. This thrill is the adrenaline surging through your body, despite not being in danger. This can happen in piercing too. The excitement of being pierced or getting pierced can easily trigger this response. (This happened to Jay after their cheek piercings!)

It’s not always super fun though. Sometimes you may get light headed or dizzy, and feel a sense of irritability. This ‘rush’ can sometimes be stressful for some clients. As always, your piercer should be on hand and prepared for all outcomes! For example, everyone at Rogue is first aid trained, so if you do feel lightheaded or dizzy, let your piercer know! Often we will elevate your legs to bring the blood back to your head steadily, and grab you some sweets to bring your blood sugars back up! Sometimes you might just need a glass of water.

Why do I sometimes feel ‘bad’ later on?

After your piercing you may feel like you are invincible or on top of the world, this is super normal, however over the next few hours the body will slowly start to return to normal after the surge from the hormonal release. The adrenaline surge can last up to an hour, as it returns back to normal levels you may feel a ‘comedown’ effect. These symptoms can include low levels of energy or tiredness, as well as a drop in mood (also known as ‘post-adrenalin’ blues). There is absolutely nothing to worry about! We recommend doing something that you find helpful in terms of self care. Whether this is getting super cosy on the sofa with snacks and watching movies by yourself, or hanging out with friends, it is super important to look after yourself. We also recommend grabbing some good food, and something full of sugar (such as a full fat Coca-Cola) however you should avoid over-consumption on caffeine as this can increase the adrenaline in your body.

Breo showing off one of our sweet jars!

The adrenaline response is nothing to be scared about. It is a natural reaction that the body has been using to protect itself for thousands of years, and it is rare we see ‘bad’ reactions to the adrenaline response from piercings. However, if you are feeling super nervous our team are always on hand to help you out and make you feel better!