The year 2020 presented to us many reasons to feel, in both our body and mind, high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and uncertainty. Those states have a direct effect on our physiology, producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline leading to inflammation, pain and chronic disease.
What can we do about it?
Blame or try to control the externals?
Overthink and get anxious as a result?
Get even more upset if things don’t go our way?
Drinking too much and overeating to feel temporary pleasure?
Taking medication to control pain or inflammation?
None of these present a long-term empowering way for you to feel good and healthy inside. Generally, those measures produce more stress hormones and inflammation in your body and mind.
Health really means EVERYTHING, so what can we do?
The function of our body to a high degree depends on our AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS) and its two branches of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is more associated with fight-flight-freeze response producing more stress hormones, leading to more inflammation and chronic pain.
The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with rest-digest-heal response leading to deeper relaxation and turning on the body’s natural corrective mechanisms.
Victor Frank's famous quote may have something very important for us to understand about our body and its innate abilities to heal:
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom".
So it is really our CHOICE how we are going to RESPOND to our external environment, or how we interpret things inside that will determine if we ACTVATE more STRESS in our body (Sympathetic Nervous System) or more HEALING ( Parasympathetic Nervous System).
So what CAN we do to SWITCH ON more Parasympathetic Response? We can STIMULATE the VAGUS NERVE, it is a cranial nerve that innervates internal organs and controls heart rate, respiration, digestion and certain vasomotor responses, relaxation of your blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, and increasing blood supply to tight and painful areas.
Have you noticed how you can have increased your back pain when your response is STRESS?
Yes, you just activated your sympathetic nervous system, so your heart rate goes up, your respiration is shallow and fast, and your blood supply becomes constricted due to spasms of the muscles in your arteries.
So how can we ACTIVATE our lovely PARASYMAPTHIC NERVOUS SYSTEM? Our internal healing capacity? Feeling good?