The Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for control of bodily functions not consciously directed such as breathing, the heartbeat and the digestive process, there are two main divisions of this…
1 - Sympathetic and 2 - Parasympathetic.
1 - This prepares the body to either fight or flee the immediate threat. Hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released and the following processes kick in: increased heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and perspiration. At the same time the following are decreased: digestion and immune function.
2 – This enables the body to rest and digest. It allows the body to conserve energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity and relaxes muscles in the body.
The fight or flight course of action enabled people to carry on living as they would fight or run away from their predators. It was a short state which they could recover from afterwards. Increasingly in our modern day lives we have continued ‘stresses’ that mean there is almost a constant level of fight or flight response throughout our day. If continued it is shown to affect our body and mind health severely in ‘disease’.
We can help our bodies to encourage the parasympathetic nervous system by just noticing our breath. Breathing slowly and deeply through our nose or our mouth can help calm our bodies and minds.
Stopping to focus on something like our feet in our shoes or where we are holding tension in our body and ‘letting them go’.
Noticing positive things around us, whether that is sunshine, rain, a bird singing, a pretty flower...there are so many things out there if we look.
Get rid of time in front of a screen which is showing negative images or someone spouting off troubles in the world, just for a while focus on the great and good, it is out there too.