Less STRESS more REST
“Why should I slow down? My life is great, action, creativity, fast
pace, always on the go. I love it!”
After some contemplation, I am endeavouring to answer the
question that has been asked several times by clients who are
experiencing health related issues due to stress. I feel it is a valid
question and deserves an informed answer.
So let us take a look at the Autonomic Nervous System, (ANS for
short or even “A”) which has its nuclei within the Central Nervous
System. The autonomic nerve connections, from their central
control within the central nervous system to their destination
organs or organ systems, all include two nerve cells.
1. The body of the central nerve cell, is in the central nervous
2. The body of the second nerve cell is located in its respective
ganglion outside of that system.
Now I have probably lost you!
Wait, now how does this relate to you and your super human
system that loves to go go go….
The Autonomic Nervous System, and we all have one even you, is
divided into two parts.
They are called the Sympathetic Nervous System and the
Parasympathetic Nervous System. The Sympathetic Ganglia are
located near the spine and the Parasympathetic ganglia are
located near the end organs.
SNS roots exit the spinal cord in its thoracic and lumbar regions.
PSN is also called the craniosacral division because its nerve roots
exit the central nervous system from the brain stem, and from the
sacral end of the spinal cord.
Let us familiarize ourselves with the SNS since it is the part that
helps you perform superhuman tasks when some part of your
brain decides that you must do it. The SNS has little or no concern
with the long-term effects of its demands, it only wants to get you
through the moment. Often times the Sympathetic is called into
action on a daily basis without being allowed to express that
energy that it has procured for the perceived excessive demand.
And we are an excessive culture, are we not?
This situation, when repeated over and over, results in an
elevated baseline of activity for the SNS.
The result of this Sympathetic hyperactivity is Chronic Stress.
This level of stress then produces all kinds of stress related
health problems, such as ulcers of the stomach and/or bowel, high
blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol,
coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
So you see, the SNS lacks foresight. It spends your reserves to get
you through the day or specific situation. It seems not to worry
about replacement of the energy that it has spent or which it is
chronically spending, as happens in the case of chronic increased
stress. Look at it this way. If you spend all the money in your bank
account, but do not take the necessary measures to deposit any
money into your account you will not have money available to
spend. So what do we do. We go into debt. We use our credit card.
We borrow from the bank. Now if we continually pay off the debts
as we go along we keep our stress level balanced but if we let the
debt carry on until it is out of control we create a stressful
situation. At this point, it may be beneficial to see your
Autonomic Nervous system as your personal bank account.
Now, on the other side of the coin we have the parasympathetic
nervous system, which has the job of restoring the energy
reserves to safe levels after the SNS has spent them so freely.
Essentially, the PNS is trying to keep up with these free-spending
habits of the “S”. The spending habits of the “S” may vary with
your personality. If you are chronically angry, fearful, guilty, etc.,
the chances are that your “S” will be chronically in a hyperalert
and hyperactive state. If you are relaxed, secure, happy and
accepting, your “S” baseline activity level will be lower, and
therefore easier for the PNS to balance.
These techniques include many forms of mind-body integration
work such as, Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Biodynamic Craniosacral
Therapy, Biofeedback, Trauma Resolution, Meditation, and any
direct connection with the natural world, such as a walk in nature.
Now you can stop here, or you can go on and discover the specifics
of ANS influence on the Organs and organ systems.
The whole body is strongly influenced by both the “S” and the “P”
divisions of the ANS.
When stimulated, the sympathetic nerves:
1. increase heart rate
2. increase blood flow to the heart muscle
3. increase blood flow to the skeletal muscle
4. increase skeletal muscle strength and performance
5. reduce blood flow to the skin
6. reduce blood flow to all other organs
7. reduce conscious thought processes in higher brain centers
8. shut down digestive processes
9. shut down peristalsis (intestinal activity)
10. shut down kidney function
11. open the bronchi
12. raise blood sugar and so on.
You get the idea. All processes that are not necessary for the
immediate activity are inhibited.
Even healing that is in process is shut down!
The Parasympathetic nerves, when active:
1. Slow the heart rate
2. Lower blood pressure
3. Open the blood vessels to the skin and to the internal organs
4. Stimulate the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal system,
enhancing peristalsis, digestion and elimination.
5. Allow for conscious thought processes in higher brain
centers “Neurons that wire together fire together”
Most glands secrete when the “P” starts performing. The
Adrenals Glands, however are slowed by the “P” nerves.
Adrenals help the “S” system. All parasympathetic activities
favor anabolic activity. That is, they favor the absorption of
nutrients and calories and their conversion to stored energy
and/ or the formation of protein building blocks.
So, you can see that the “P” is charged with the restoration of the
body after the “S” has spent all it’s reserve, ie. energy and bodily
stores as needed in crisis situations.
The result is, you’ve got it !
S T R E S S
"So slow it down,
so that you have the reserve energy to speed it up and still stay Healthy and Balanced."