What happens to your body when you win a million?

Winning a million dollars is undoubtedly a huge shock to the system - a pleasurable one of course, but certainly a life changing moment you won't forget. Upon learning that you've won big, it will take you a few seconds to compute and make sense of the news. You need to be able to grasp what has happened, and your mind and body reacts with a natural startle response common to all animals and humans in highly surprising situations. You experience a physiological and psychological state of heightened arousal as a result of this unexpected event and all sorts of things start happening to your mind and body uncontrollably!

Certain changes will begin to take place immediately and within fractions of a second:

1. Sudden Focus and Tension in your Muscles

You immediately focus entirely on the news you've won and experience a sudden tension in your muscles, especially in your neck muscles. Some people experience this as a feeling of sitting bolt upright or going rigid with shock. This is a natural physiological response designed to stop us in our tracks and ready us for action in surprising and potentially threatening situations. It puts us on high alert while we work out what's going on. With a positive shock like winning big, you'll respond automatically while you try to process this major event.

2. Your facial expression will immediately change

Your facial expression will alter in an involuntary and automatic way to one consistent with extreme surprise. For example your eyebrows will raise into high arches, your forehead will wrinkle, your eye lids will open wider, your pupils will dilate and your jaw will drop so your mouth opens.

3. You have a Fight, Flight or Freeze Response

Because finding out you've won a million dollars is such a huge shock it's likely that you'll experience what is known as a fight, flight or freeze response. You might have a sudden instinct to shout out loudly, punch the air or grab something or someone (in a kind of a fight response), you might want to get up and run or skip about, or even turn away incredulously (in a kind of flight response) or you may just feel completely stunned, immobile and unable to move or process what is happening to you (a freeze response). This is an automatic and natural response to shock, be it an unpleasant one or a wonderful one, and it allows you to respond to the situation without the delay of thinking about what to do.

4. You'll get a boost of adrenaline and your heart rate will increase

Because your body is reacting in all sorts of ways to this sudden news, adrenaline begins to be pumped around your body, due to a natural response to ready you for action. Your heart rate also increases in order to pump blood quickly to your muscles, again, in case action becomes necessary. Some people experience this as a feeling of being 'pumped' or 'elated'.

5. The hair on your skin may stand up and your body temperature will rise.

Your body reacts in some unusual ways with the hairs on your arms or perhaps the back of your neck standing up on end. You're likely to feel warm and energized because of the increase in body temperature caused by all these sudden physiological changes.

All these changes happen in a fraction of a second upon receiving big exciting news like the fact you've won a million dollars. They can subside just as quickly too. As you begin to realise that this is an entirely wonderful and real occurrence your system begins to calm down. Afterwards, as the news begins to sink in you may feel exhausted as your body and mind


Marcie Ferros is a psychological therapist who has worked with some of the world's biggest reality shows.

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