As you may know, humans have two different nervous systems that are made to work in symbiosis.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the optimal state our body needs to be in to regenerate and heal. Our breath, blood, heart rate, digestion, reproductive organs, all restoring in order to work in the best way they can. This nervous system is stimulated when we are calm.
The sympathetic nervous system or more commonly know- fight or flight nervous system kicks in for short sharp bursts of energy and adrenalin and is vital for focus, strength and speed. Heart rate and breathing quicken, blood flushes away from the organs to the muscles so they are primed for optimal movement. Adrenaline, the stress hormone, floods the body.
Whenever we feel in danger, scared, anxious or stressed this response is triggered. This is a healthy response in the short term. The issue now is we are not just running from tigers but stress and anxiety creeps up on us within our every day life and doesn’t dissipate: iPhones and tech, work life blending into home life, keeping up with the Jones’s not only in person but now in the overwhelming world of social media too, the list goes on. This hyper alert and activated state becomes more common and addictive than our more restful calm self.
The longer we run off our adrenal glands the more addicted to this system our bodies and minds become. However running on this end of our nervous system the entire time can end up in exhaustion, burn out or even illness.
By activating the vagus nerve, a wonderful wandering nerve that touches the majority of our organs, we can help drop onto our parasympathetic nervous system and allow it to work its magic throughout the body.
Ways of stimulating the vagus nerve and dropping the body out of fight or flight mode and into rest and restore patterns:
Perhaps we can use this as a reminder to notice when the body is ‘on’ for long periods of time and use these activities above as the vitally important preventative medicine that they are.
Learning to regulate our bodies and keep ourselves fit, healthy and glowing for as long as possible!