What is 'functional freeze mode'?

What is 'functional freeze mode'?

Experts are turning to TikTok to create awareness of 'functional freeze mode' and how to combat it.

Functional freeze mode is described as a person experiencing "heightened anxiety levels" and a "lack of desire to do things at the same time."

"It's when you are able to outwardly function and complete daily tasks such as going to work, seeing friends and preparing meals, but psychologically you are still stuck in this freeze mode," the Counselling Directory explains.

It is said to potentially cause issues in a person's life, whether that be work-related or communication with friends and family.

Signs include ongoing low-level anxiety, the desire to isolate, neglecting self-care, procrastination, exhaustion and feeling disconnected from feelings and the world.

Certified health coach Karen of Vitality Wellness Coaching (@karenhealthcoach) detailed symptoms further and racked up 3.4 million views, along with thousands of comments from people who related.

"This is insane. I am 100 per cent this person. I didn't know anything about a functional freeze," one person wrote in response, while another shared their own experience: "I work in healthcare. This was me for 2 years. I finally "woke up", lost the weight I gained during covid, and I'm just now starting to feel alive again."


Functional freeze is a state of being where you’re there, but not completely. You’re in a state of physically going through the motions but not processing anything at an emotional level. Follow me for ways to get past functional freeze and begin living life fully again. #nervoussystemregulation #nervoussystemhealing #freeze #functionalfreeze #functional #healing #emotion #healthcoach #functionalmedicine

There are, however, methods to ease functional freeze mode "by moving our nervous system from the sympathetic mode (set up for danger) to parasympathetic mode (set up for resting)," as per therapist Katie Evans for Counselling Directory.

Katie's top five tips consist of connecting with nature, light exercise including stretching and yoga, breathing exercises, practising mindfulness and meditation and singing.

Burnout coach Sal Holden (@overcomeburnout) reiterated similar tips to regulate the nervous system:


Feeling stuck, blocked and numb? Try these tips. 🩷 #burnoutrecovery #freeze #adrenalfatigue #exhaustion #empoweringwomen #healing #selflove #foryoupage #energy #heal #selfdiscovery

When one person shared their story about living in this state for 25 years, Sal suggested: "When we have unhealed trauma we lose a lot of capacity, physically, mentally, emotionally and especially in our nervous system. People can and are living in high functional freeze for years and years."

It is always important to consult with a GP, who can offer guidance and support, if it impacts your day-to-day.

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