Oh the amazing mechanisms of the human nervous system!! I just love talking about the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and its two branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. These two systems work together to maintain homeostasis (balance) in our bodies and minds. An imbalance of these systems can lead to poor health. Constant low - grade stress or high intensity stress can lead to autonomic nervous system imbalance. Below is a diagram of the basic structure of the human nervous system.
Our well-being is dependent upon the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
We can think of the sympathetic nervous system as an emergency system. When it is activated, it inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system because emergencies take precedence over relaxation. Our systems become out of balance when we are unable to shift out of sympathetic activation (high gear) back to parasympathetic activation (low gear), resulting in high levels of stress and poor health.
Our bodies are meant to handle and deal with stress, but not the amount and frequency we are commonly faced with today. And did you know that we release the most stress hormones (cortisol) within minutes of waking? Just thinking about the events of the day ahead triggers our fight or flight instinct and releases cortisol straight into our blood. Isn't it incredible to consider how powerful our own thoughts are? The fact that our thoughts alone can activate our sympathetic nervous system is quite profound, in my humble opinion.
Something else profound to consider is that, emotionally, the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is associated with fear while the parasympathetic nervous system is associated with feelings of love. All you need is love! Love always drives out fear!
To promote balance and healing, the goal is to keep the sympathetic system turned off as much as possible. Simple ways to do this are to rest, practice relaxation and think positive and happy thoughts often.
Click here for some simple, practical wisdom on ways to keep your nervous system balanced throughout your day. Your health and well - being depend on it!