Sympathetic vs parasympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, was not really taught much at school and it felt unimportant as a 15 year old to be learning about it!  If I asked you, could you tell me about them now? In this blog, I want to share with you their roles in our body, their differences, and why they matter to you. 

Your central nervous system contains the brain, spinal cord, and nerves in your body. Your autonomic nervous system is part of your central nervous system that regulates bodily functions. The autonomic nervous system is where the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system live. They control the same parts of the body, but with opposite effects.

Sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system is your FIGHT OR FLIGHT response. Your reactions to the external environment comes from your sympathetic nervous system. Note that this is an involuntary automatic response that you have no conscious control over. This system has the ability to shut down the parasympathetic nervous system in order to use energy elsewhere to control heart rate, blood pressure, awareness, etc. 

Parasympathetic nervous system

The parasympathetic nervous system works to help you get into a REST AND DIGEST state. It slows down our responses to bring about a sense of calm so our bodies can rest, relax, and repair. This is the system that helps us maintain long term health. This system has the ability to relax our muscles, slow down our heart rate, and even increase digestive enzymes.

Why is is important?

I am sure you can conclude that both of these systems are vital to our health and body functioning. There must be a balance between the two and they have to be in communication. 

So what does it look like when your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system are not in balance? What can you do to help? 

  • Circadian rhythms are out of balance
  • Constant stress and anxiety when there is no perceived threat
  • Difficulty unwinding at night
  • Waking up feeling anxious 
  • Heightened state of stress and awareness 

These are just a few common signs that your nervous system state needs some extra support.

 

Now that you have learned about your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, take some time to ask yourself some of the following questions in order to get an inventory on where your nervous system state is at: 

  • How often do I feel anxious without a “real” reason to be? 
  • Do I struggle to fall asleep and wake up on a regular schedule? 
  • Is it easy for me to relax and unwind in the evenings or weekends? 
  • Do I find myself getting sick or feeling tired often?
  • Are there areas where my body needs extra support and nourishment? 

 

After you have answered those questions, spend some time reflecting on if seeking outside support is the right thing for you right now. I offer many modalities of support and the quickest way to get into contact with me is by booking a clarity call. Let’s connect and see if there is a good way for me to support you along your journey. I have been where you are and I know that you can achieve ultimate healing and happiness. 

What next?

As always, thank you for saving room for me in your inbox and I look forward to connecting with you further. If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram where I share posts about all things psychology, self-care, and neuroscience. Also, join my Mindbody Reset Community to get plugged into a community of women who are resetting their nervous systems each month! 

Sending love and wellbeing your way!

Lisa 🧠

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