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Stress & The Nervous System

Topics to be discussed:

  1. Nervous System

  2. How the Nervous System Applies to Everyday Life

  3. How You Can Reduce Stress

We all know the feeling of stress. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, your body is well aware of the phenomenon.

You see your body has a nervous system. Within this multilayered pyramid known as your nervous system there are two pillars that get a ton of credit. These two pillars are called your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). There are a few catch phrases that are highly associated with them. Ever heard of...

"Rest and digest" ??? Well this is for your Parasympathetic N.S. (nervous system).

or what about...

"Fight or flight" ??? You guessed it, this is for your Sympathetic N.S.

Well, the thing is that these pillars of the nervous system are responsible for "controlling" or initiating certain responses in your body. These responses are TOTALLY NECESSARY for our bodies to function.

Okay, so we now know about the NS but how does that apply to you and me? And how does this play a role with the every day life???

We need to digest food and be in a restful state to absorb and digest all of the nutrients, as well as have sexual drive, and recover from our workouts. Therefore, the PNS is key to survival.

We also need the fight or flight in place in case there is danger to run from, or to get something done for all my procrastinators out there (I still utilize this too). And well, ya the SNS is also critical for us to live.

But here is the real kicker...

The crazy thing is that your mind can differentiate between what is scary or what is exciting. But your nervous system... it does not have a conscious to understand these differences.

Take for example, here are two different stressors that may be applied to your life.

  1. You want a thrill and so you go on a roller coaster or go through a haunted corn maze.

  2. You have bills stacking up and can't afford rent.

Both of these are stressors. And both of these examples will utilize the Sympathetic NS.

What really is a key factor here is how you perceive the stress. Some may feel that riding a roller coaster or going through a haunted corn maze is wayyyy scarier than looking at your bills. Where others may look at the first situation as a thrilling event and laugh after it is all done.

Therefore, that conscious part is important in determining what a stress is. If you perceive the situation as extremely stressful... your body is going to respond in that way.

Now think about all the other stressors in your life (okay don't really do it because I don't want to stress you out more). Those items start to pile up.

Trying to live the American dream can place a bigger impact on those stressors and well now we are looking at the possibility of chronically being stressed out.

So how can you go about reducing this stress?

There are several ways that you can do this:

  1. Perceived control of stress - does it control you or you control it?

  2. Looking at the situation as non-threatening and create an action plan

  3. Meditation - doesn't matter how it looks but that you calm your mind and body

  4. Breathing techniques - deep belly breathing, slow and controlled

  5. Exercise! - 20 to 30 minutes a day helps reduce stress and increase overall health

These steps can help reduce the physiological response that occurs in your body (how your body responds). It doesn't mean you need to spend the whole day practicing meditation. But perhaps a stressful situation arises then practice a minute or two of deep belly breathing to help reduce the tension in your body.

Remember, your nervous system cannot differentiate between the stressors but your mind can. You can inform your body that the situation is not threatening to your existence. Create an action plan or steps to overcome this situation but know that you have control over it.

Everyone is different on how they work best in these stressful situations. If you find that the techniques you are currently using are not working, ditch them and try new ones! What do you have to lose?

For more information be sure to check out other blog posts, connect with me on IG, FB, or Pinterest, and of course feel free to shoot me a message! I would love to connect with you.

In health & exercise,

Dani Jones

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