Let’s look at our nervous system. The nervous system is a communication system between the brain and the body. Within this system we have 2 parts that act as a balancing system or you can think of them as a teeter totter-the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system can be thought of as the gas pedal. This system is what helps us to go go go. When the sympathetic nervous system is in full swing our heart rate is up, our respiration is up, and we are ready to fight or flee.
In contrast the parasympathetic nervous system is the brakes. This system is what allows us to slow down. It is often referred to as the rest and digest part of the nervous system. This is where digestion is best and our bodies reset and rebuild.
There are 2 types of stress: Eustress or good stress and distress or bad stress. Stress can be good because it can give you an edge in competition by raising your heart rate and your focus. It can help you to get out of a dangerous situation.
Stress by design is necessary for us to function. Our problem is that we get stuck in a state of distress. When we are stuck in a stressful situation for a long time this is chronic stress. Our lives can create chronic stress and when we don’t have a good healthy way of dealing with this stress, we stay in this fight or flight stage.
The Vagus nerve is the longest nerve system in the body. We have both a right and a left vagus nerve. It runs from our brain past our heart and lungs and all the way down to our digestive system. This nerve houses 75% of the nerve tissue for the parasympathetic nervous system. So keeping this nerve happy is a must if we want to balance our nervous system and get more rest and ZEN if you would during your day.
Here are a few ways things that you can do to keep your vagus nerve happy and healthy:
Apply cold compresses to your face and the back of your neck.
Breathe deeply and slowly.
Connect with nature.
Diaphragmatic breathing, the slower the better.
Eat a whole-foods diet.
Float in a salt water pod.
Get a massage.
I have also included this short video highlighting a 1-minute exercise you can do while seated or laying down.
In conclusion. A balanced nervous system is a happy nervous system. There are simple things you can do everyday. You may want to venture over to see us at the Zen Zone Wellness Center and let us help you to achieve this balance through massage, float therapy, or yoga class. Till next time. NAMASTE.