Your Central Nervous System operates in two channels: “fight or flight” and “rest and digest”.
‘Rest and Digest’ (parasympathetic nervous system) is where majority of your healing/repair and growth happens, so if we can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system more we could heal and grow more.
‘Fight or Flight’ (sympathetic nervous system), on the other hand, is an incredibly valuable and crucial adaptation to help us survive. Think back to our caveman forefathers; if we were faced with a lion or bear, we needed to either flee from danger or fight for our lives. During these urgent emergency situations, it is so valuable to have this release of hormones and stimulate the adrenal glands to release of catecholamines such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). When in ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, you will experience increased heartrate for oxygen delivery, more blood flow to the most vital places and away from less crucial areas like the skin, muscles tense in preparation to run or fight, even your hearing can become more sensitive, and overall your body is in a state of “do or die”.
Unfortunately, in this day and age our society is one of high stress and we tend to live in a constant state of ‘Fight or Flight’ on a daily basis. We are no longer occasionally running from bears in the forest or lions on the safari, instead now we are facing daily stressors of financial struggles, co-worker conflicts, and tumultuous relationships – and our poor bodies don’t know the difference between these modern stresses and our primal primitive ones, so we experience fight or flight far more often than we should.
Down-regulating the nervous system can help with mental stability, emotional wellness, improved sleep, improved hormone balance, and even muscle anabolism as you are in a better repair and build mode when you’re operating on a more parasympathetic level. Remember that sometimes less is more, and timing is everything.
Ways to down-regulate your nervous system:
- Hot Baths (we recommend an Epsom salt soaked which will further relax your muscles and help lower inflammation in the body)
- Sensory deprivation / float tanks
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing
- “Grounding” practices (ie: Connecting your breath and body with your physical environment. All of the above are examples but additional “grounding” activities include hugging, lovemaking, holding your child/breastfeeding, and sun-gazing)