The human body is amazing, it is constantly adapting to or preparing us for our next move. Every second, without our awareness, millions of actions are being orchestrated and coordinated by the autonomic nervous system. As the name implies, this system is working “automatically” without our conscious control and is maintaining life processes such as heart rate and respiration. Just imagine if you had to think about breathing or getting your heart to beat!
The autonomic system is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. In every moment of your life, depending on your body’s needs, either the fight-flight response or the rest-digest system will be active. When the sympathetic system is triggered it prepares the body and mind to fight or to flee by releasing hormones to increase heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and body tension. At the same time, non-essential processes like digestion, reproduction, cell growth and repair are put on hold to deal with the immediate stress. When the sympathetic system shuts off the the parasympathetic system becomes active again and hormones are released to allow the body to rest, digest, grow, and repair.
When your brain senses a threat, like a vehicle coming towards you at high speed, your brain senses danger, your sympathetic system kicks in and you’re able to get yourself out of harm’s way before your brain can even make sense of what is happening. This sympathetic response knocks the body out of balance, but we have an innate mechanism to bring the body back to balance (homeostasis) once the impending danger has passed. The body is able to encounter a stress, activate the sympathetic response and return to homeostasis once the threat is eliminated, and it should then take about 20 minutes to calm down physiologically. The purpose of the autonomic system is to provide you with the means to survive adversity when it presents and to allow for growth and repair once the threat has passed.
The interesting thing about humans is that we have the ability to think about a stressful event and have our body release the same stress hormones as it would if our life was in real danger. Homeostasis is achieved when the threat is eliminated, but if you keep reliving the threat in your head the fight or flight response does not get to shut down. The body doesn’t get to spend enough time in the parasympathetic mode that allows for rest, digestion, repair, growth, and creation. But your body cannot thrive when it’s constantly mobilizing it’s resources and energy to keep it in the survival mode. When the body is not allowed adequate time to heal and restore it is not hard to see why we end up with issues affecting organs, systems, and overall wellness.
The brain and the body communicate via the nervous system located in the spinal cord. If the body is “stuck” in a defensive state as a result of a stress (be it physical, chemical or emotional), it can impact you both internally and externally. At BodyMind Wellness Studio, we focus on NeuroStructural Optimization to allow for optimal communication between the spinal cord and the brain. When the body is better able to interpret and adapt to their current circumstance, a greater sense of awareness is attained. The correct information is being relayed between the brain and the body so it doesn’t respond in defense (out of stress) unless there is an actual need. Perhaps most importantly, the body is a given the opportunity to use its energy for growth, repair and creation. It is great that we have the ability to respond so quickly to danger in order to survive, but we must take the time to heal and replenish if we want to thrive.
“When the mind and the body work in accordance, the channel to your innermost self becomes clearer and more accessible.” – Dr. Julie Doobay
Copyright Dr. Julie Doobay 2018