Stress is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). In our ANS, we have two branches which are Parasympathetic (PNS) and Sympathetic (SNS).
PNS is the rest and repair because this is when we are calm, able to rest, digest, repair the body, build muscle and really fixes the damages from our SNS nervous system.
SNS is our fight or flight and in a state of stress. However, stress isn't bad, it is bad when we are in this state for a prolonged amount of time as it can cause muscle breakdown, increased stress hormones, increased heart rate, and so on.
When it comes to health/fitness, we want to be in a SNS state when training but in a PNS state after training.
So we want to move between the SNS and PNS system without being stuck, but how?
By decreasing SNS stimulation and increasing PNS stimulation through calming and stress reducing exercises.
- Only way to activate the PNS is breathing exercises and really focus on the length of exhalation or trying activities that are breathed focused like meditation or yoga.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing - Ill add a diagram for you, just swipe right!
- Explore your perception of what you believe is urgent - You always have control on how you feel. For example, if a car pulls out in front of you, it is urgent for you to slam on your brakes. If you receive 100 new emails overnight, you may feel that all of them are urgent. Both of these examples can induce the same stress response in your body when you perceive them as urgent, even though the latter example really sits lower on a scale of urgency.
- If you feel things are more serious than remember it is okay to get support by talking to a doctor or counsellor