top of page

High Stress Jobs & the Vagal Brake / SNB 136 quotes & show notes

Updated: Mar 16, 2023


If we get too far into our defensive state, that means the safety state is inactive.
The social engagement system - the ventral vagal pathways - if they’re active, that keeps our heartbeat at a calmer pace which keeps our defensive [state less active].
Hopefully… your [ventral vagal] safety state - is built up enough to where you have more distress tolerance, more resilience.
If you don’t have access to your safety state, you don’t exactly think critically.
It’s not necessarily a destructive thing or dysfunctional thing or maladaptive thing to access these defensive states, it just depends on whether you have access also with your safety state.


  • Psychiatric ward, police, ambulance, nurses

    • Any sort of crisis response and front line work

  • Need to stay active and mobile for these jobs

    • Does this activate the flight/fight state? Sure.

  • Also jobs that are potentially high stress but immobile

    • Therapists don’t necessarily move much, but lots of stress

  • But that means safety state is inactive

    • This is the vagal brake

  • Being mobilized or in a sympathetic state is not a bad thing

    • Need safety active along with it


  • Yes, rational thinking does “go out the window” when in defensive states

  • But not if safety state is active

    • Some people can do high stress jobs and stay anchored enough in safety

  • When the vagal brake is off, then rational thinking is not possible more or less

  • Defensive states are not bad to access

    • Just need vagal brake


FREE Polyvagal eBook -

Building Safety Anchors -

Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats -

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1 (800) 273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline -1 (800) 799-7233

LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline - 1 (866) 488-7386

National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 (800) 656-4673

Crisis Text Line - Text “HOME” to 741741

Call 911 for emergency

This and other content produced by Justin Sunseri (“JustinLMFT”) (i.e; podcast, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) is not therapy, not intended to be therapy or be a replacement for therapy. Nothing in this creates or indicates a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with your therapist or seek for one in your area if you are experiencing mental health sx. Nothing should be construed to be specific life advice; it is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

80 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page