“Fight or Flight” vs. “Rest and Digest”

More than ever, people are finding themselves in a state of chronic stress and anxiety. Here at Release Well-Being Center, we talk a lot about breathing and mindset. But do you really understand the magnitude of finding your “rest and digest” side of your nervous system?
 
Here’s some background in case you haven’t heard it lately.
 
We have two main modes of operation in our nervous system. First is “fight or flight,” also referred to as Sympathetic Nervous System mode. The Second is “rest and digest,” also known as the Parasympathetic Nervous System mode. You should optimally be in a parasympathetic state 80 percent of the time, but many people struggle to be in this state at any point during their day, for any length of time. From the minute the alarm goes off in the morning, rushing around all day long, eating on the run, rushing kids out the door or to your next meeting, to finally collapsing into bed, the constant demands keep us on edge. For most of us it just doesn’t stop all day.
 
We should be aware of what this does to our health. When you are fighting and flighting all day, you don’t give your body the chance to secrete the digestive enzymes it needs to properly breakdown the foods you eat, healthy choices or not. This is one way people can become nutrient deficient even when eating whole organic foods in a balanced diet. When you are deficient in critical nutrients, you open up to a whole host of disease states. Headaches, digestive issues, leaky gut, sleep issues, anxiety, low libido, and the list goes on and on!
 
There are many more ways that having an imbalanced nervous system can affect your health. When in in a chronic sympathetic state, the body typically produces lots of cortisol. This is a very direct way that your body will purposely create more glucose in the blood, so you can keep darting about in your daily life. But chronically high cortisol and blood glucose is not ideal, it leads to high oxidation and cell damage, and eventually insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Another example of how lifestyle – even the parts that are completely separate from diet – determines your health. Your body is telling itself that immediate survival is more important than regenerating cells, reducing inflammation, detoxifying, or reproducing or any other bodily function that isn’t about surviving a crisis.
 
So here’s your Tuesday Tip:
 
5 Ways to help get into parasympathetic mode, (in addition to attending Release classes ?)
– Breathe! Breathing helps reduce your heart rate and gets oxygen moving throughout the body. Breathe deeply between 5 and 10 times. This can be done anywhere at any time.
– Meditation: A 5 to 10 minute guided meditation when you get home from work can really help the transition and let your body relax and start the healing and regeneration process.
– Essential oils: Using specific essential oils for activating the vagus nerve is a great way to help the nervous system and send the right signals to your body. (Just remember to exercise caution using essential oils around pets!)
– Mindful Eating Practice: Eat only when you can take the time to chew your food completely, and enjoy it. Take the time to focus on giving your body the nutrients it needs to use it to the fullest potential.
– Take a Walk in Nature: This does a few things all at once. It helps you regulate your breathing, gets fresh air into the system, provides movement and grounds you.
 
What other ways do you support our parasympathetic mode?
My favorite is playing with my dog!
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