19834522_ml

Are You Sympathetic? (part 1)

Did you know that your nervous system can be broken down in to several divisions? Well, now you do! One of these divisions is known as the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and deals mainly with involuntary actions and reactions in your internal organs. The ANS is also divided in to two divisions: the sympathetic nervous system and a parasympathetic nervous system.  Loosely, the sympathetic division is known as the “fight or flight” division. This gets your body ready to fight the bear or run away from the bear (your “adrenal” response). You also have a parasympathetic division that is loosely the “rest and digest” half of your ANS. This system is responsible for repair, rebuilding and “maintenance”. While neither system will become 100% active or dormant, in times of stress, your fight or flight “mode” will become more active and while you are asleep or resting, your rest and digest mode becomes dominant. OK, so what does this mean to me the consumer.  Well, historically, (through most of our development as a species) we were probably in rest and digest mode a good bit of the time, truly resting, relaxing, sleeping. We were in true fight or flight mode for short intense bursts (hunting, survival situations and, well, running from the bear).  Most of our waking time was probably spent in about a 50/50 state or even a slightly parasympathetic dominant mode. Going about every day chores and tasks, cooking, cleaning, building, tool and weapon making, socializing etc.  Even when we were hunting and gathering, most of the time we were just walking around and not truly under stress. Uh, ok, so how does this affect my daily life? I’m getting there! These days, most of us are under a great deal of stress. Work, family obligations, getting the kids where they need to go, bills, getting dinner on the table, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. We are also bombarded with information that is designed to be stimulating: news, social media, television the list goes on and on.  All of this puts us in a constant, low level sympathetic dominant mode. Granted, most of us don’t get that highly sympathetic dominant adrenaline rush, but remember that would have only been in short bursts for most of our history. So what is the problem with this? OK, I hate to do this again but I’m going to break this down in to two parts, so tune in next week for part 2!!