You know it’s about to get geeky when we post a key in the beginning of a blog, but this is totally worth a quick read so hang tight!
ANS – Autonomic Nervous System
PNS – Parasympathetic Nervous System
SNS – Sympathetic Nervous System
ENS – Enteric Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) consists of two states: the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). When the PNS is engaged it “turns on” the enteric nervous system (ENS).
You’ve all heard of the SNS but you have probably heard it called “fight or flight.” What you may not have heard is how devastating the SNS can be when we spend too much time that state.
In a society where adrenaline boosters are everywhere, stress abounds, and stimulation is around every corner, it easy to live life in a state of fight or flight. Especially after the past few weeks worrying about loved ones, watching our savings take a dump, and possibly even getting laid off…overnight. Saying that the world is in a current state of “fight or flight” is probably pretty accurate.
Furthermore, the sympathetic nervous system is part of North American culture. Comfort zone? Yeah right, we are comfortable with the uncomfortable. Siestas? I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Coffee? Ohh yes please make it a quad, breve, mocha, frappe, latte! We like being in the SNS, getting pumped up, stressed out, testing new waters, and fighting our way back to the top. The sympathetic nervous system is a great tool, but you must know how to use it!
Here’s the down side to the SNS. eventually your body wears out, you become lethargic, even chronically ill, and eventually find yourself in a doctor’s office talking about heart disease.
Have you ever been in a very intense situation? You feel your heartbeat faster, alertness heighten, muscles fill with blood, and your pupils dilate. You have entered into a state of fight or flight. Your body has prepared itself to do whatever is necessary to survive. You are switched into the sympathetic nervous system. Our body is so amazing! In this state we have moved ALL our involuntary bodily functions away from any action unnecessary to survival and focused everything on getting ready to kick some butt or run away, lickedee split. Historically, you can understand why the sympathetic nervous system was so crucial to the survival of human beings as a species. Today we find ourselves in the SNS because of stress, caffeine, TV, video games, and killer-diller workouts that end in sweat angels.
The problem with the SNS is all the body’s systems are solely focused on actions that will you help you survive and disregards other functions like digestion, recovery, and slowing down your ticker. Therefore, if you stay in this heightened state too long eventually you will become sickly and your doctor will eventually have some words with you about America’s favorite killer: heart disease. That’s why it super important to spend a lot of time in the parasympathetic nervous system.
Remember to yin and yang. After a sympathetic nervous system activity, do something to get your body back in the parasympathetic nervous system.
Until next time
Stay healthy, friends!