Many times our problems in life seem exhausting because we cannot exactly put our finger on them. We look for specific thought patterns that are ineffective or emotions that are destructive. Do not get me wrong, these can be significant reasons for problems. However, a lot of the time our nervous system is out of whack and that is what is leading to ineffective thoughts patterns and bothersome emotions.
Our autonomic nervous system is usually mistaken as something out of our control simply because the term “autonomic.” Let’s be clear, they screwed up when naming and attaching that part of the nervous system. Science has advanced and we now know that WE DO have influence over our nervous systems!
First, you should know that the there are two major systems that make the autonomic nervous system. That is the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Allow me to explain…
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is what activates our body, glands, and organs. Naturally, our heart rate increases for a time while our SNS is stimulated. The SNS acts as a defense to protect ourselves and our bodies. Sometimes it can go overboard when we are in flight or fight mode. However, it has its purpose. The problem is when the SNS is taking over our bodies feel more tension, stressed, anxious and over a period of time we could become fatigued and experience many physical illnesses (eg. high blood pressure).
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is the “rest and digest” system. Our heart decreases as this system kicks in. We are able to rejuvenate and rebuild. The PNS allows the brain, body, thyroid, adrenal glands, and digestive organs to relax; thus, rebuilding the body and mind. Over activation of the PNS can lead to more pessimism, depression, fatigue, and struggling to get motivated.
As you can see the nervous system plays a significant role in our physical and mental well-being. The key here is to find a healthy balance between the two systems. Our body does not just get stuck in one or the other, as it has to pan between the two systems. The problem is when one is in dominance.
One way to simply notice the activation of the two systems is by taking a deep breath in for 3 seconds and letting it out for 3 seconds. As you breathe in, your heart rate increases and the SNS is more activated and as you breathe out, your heart rate decreases amd the PNS is more activated. Thus, creating balance for the short term.
I want to focus on balance between the two systems over the next week and offer you options to control your nervous system and not allow it to control you!
An interesting way to work with your nervous system is through some chiropractic work. In fact, I noticed at my chiropractor’s office (Country Side Health and Wellnes) Dr. Mike Cartwright has a large picture explaining the SNS and PNS hanging on the wall. Chiropractic work deals specifically with the nervous system. I am in no way saying that going to a chiropractor will heal all your emotional wounds. However, it will help you physiologically/physically feel better, which will consequently allow you to think more clearly and process emotions more effectively. It is an important piece to the puzzle! In searching for a chiropractor to use, I would suggest going to one that does not just simply “crack your body.” For example, Dr. Cartwright is very thorough in understanding the problems through x-ray, in depth evaluation, and spending quality time with me at each visit. I cannot do justice to explain all the benefits of this work but I do see that with myself and my clients it is beneficial in the overall process of creating balance in the nervous system! Chiropractic work can also help release tension that is preventing people from maintaining desired weight!!
If you have more questions about the nervous system shoot away!! I will continue to give more suggestions to help in this area…
-Dr. Drew Brazier