Wednesday, 19 February 2014

‘Fight or Flight’ we need to make time for relaxation in our busy lives.

We all have stressful times causing us to feel anxiety, stress, anger, fright or emotional upset due to many different factors in our lives.  Our natural reaction to a stressful situation means that your heart rate may increase, your palms may become sweaty, and your breathing may increase which are all controlled by our Autonomic Nervous System. This is not something we can control, our body and brain takes over to ensure that we are ready for danger if needs be.

Our Autonomic Nervous System is part of our nervous system and controls all automatic body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion, pupil dilation, blood flow, sweat, etc.

This system is split into 2 parts:

•    The sympathetic system (known as fight or flight) is the system designed to prepare the body at times of emergency and excess stress. This can be activated by a stressful situation and your heartbeat and blood pressure will increase and blood will be diverted to muscles so that you are ready to move quickly, your digestion will decrease to conserve energy, your sweat glands will be stimulated and your pupils will dilate. This is all preparing your body to expel lots of energy to escape danger.

•    We have a counter system called the parasympathetic system which works to calm and balance the actions of the sympathetic system and creates a normal body function. This system helps to keep your heartbeat low, lowers blood pressure, increases digestion and keeps your body functioning normally.

Due to our busy lives, the sympathetic system can be activated many times during the day by factors such as work deadlines looming, busy traffic whilst driving, looking after the children etc. This all puts additional stress on our bodies, makes our heart work harder and gives a feeling of increased anxiety. Additional adrenaline and cortisol are released and if unused can cause anxiety, reduces the body’s immune system and can slow down your healing capabilities. 

So, in summary we need to give our mind and bodies plenty of time for rest and relaxation, to ensure that it can function efficiently, stay healthy and heal where it’s needed on the inside.  The parasympathetic system only works effectively when we are relaxed and taking time out, so ensure you listen to your body and have some time out regularly.

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