Last week, we looked at our life-saving autonomic nervous system (ANS).
In that issue’s teaser for this newsletter, I said I would focus on the unwanted effects of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
Over and over again, I’ve mentioned that it is more useful to focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.
Yet, I did it again. I was going to talk about the harmful side of an overly used SNS. What I should’ve said was that this issue is about creating a more balanced ANS.
So, let’s do that now.
First, we need to understand that we need both systems. The SNS (fight or flight) keeps us alive in dangerous, high-alert situations. The parasympathetic nervous system* (rest and digest) keeps us alive in general.
*Last week I called the Parasympathetic nervous system PNS as did the websites I used. Then I found out that PNS can also mean Peripheral Nervous System)
Somewhere I read that we could live a long time without our SNS but would die very quickly without our PSNS.
Yet most of us spend most of our time in a mostly engaged SNS.
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.
No person, no place, and no thing has any power over us, for 'we' are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.
~Louise L. Hay
Action Ideas (continued from last week)
7. Going to your happy place
Pre-determine a physical place, an event or a feeling and practice imagining it. At first, the practice will take time and maybe props like a darkened room or the scent of lavender. Eventually, a relaxed body and mind will be associated with that thought, and that thought can be called into focus at will.
8. Keeping a non-stiff upper lip
One site claims (without linking to research, and sorry, but I didn't record the website and now can't find it) that fiddling with our upper lip activates the PSNS. I wonder if that’s why we bite our lips when we are nervous? We don’t think rationally when stressed, and so if we need our wits about us, we need to activate the PSNS.
Not sure if yawning supports the PNS because of the deep breathing or the upper lip mentioned above. I found a few mentions of yawning without a solid explanation.
10. Use new circumstances to try something new
The story below is a combination of several of the previously mentioned suggestions. The new component is the determination of the young man and his desperation to regain control.
Quite a while ago, I read about a young man with Asperger’s who had moved out of home to go to university. Although he had often experienced anxiety attacks, his desire to go to university was so strong, he decided it was worth the challenge.
He had an attack on the first evening at university and was almost too much for him.
The second night was worse.
He was convinced the third night, if it was worse, it would send him home - something that with all of his heart, he did not want to do.
On the third night, the anxiety started in the pit of his stomach. This time, because he was at a loss of what to do, in desperation, he laid on the floor. As he laid on the floor, trying to control the anxiety, somehow he detached himself from it. He noticed that when he ‘watched’ it, rather than get caught up in the fear of experiencing it, the anxiety moved through him. It wasn’t all that long before it was over.
The same thing happened the next evening, but with less fear, and the next and the next. He overcame his anxiety.
The detached watching sounds like a combination of focusing on physical sensation and mediation strategy (i.e. being detached and letting things move through you).
Caution with this suggestion. Sometime the strength of the want can create the resolve to overcome a problem. Sometimes the problem cannot be overcome with resolve only. We can't always use 'mind over matter'.
11. Bineural beats
This should've been included last week but was missed. It is more along the lines of meditation, but easier to do.I won't go into the science behind it but it claims to activate the PSNS for relaxation, sleep, and creativity, among other benefits.
For many reasons, it is difficult to be stressed and experiencing real laughter.
No surprise. Any intake that adds stress to the body should be reduced. In general, eat nutrient-dense foods. As one author said, with a wink, “Anything that requires a list of ingredients is probably not the best thing for your body.(i.e. eat whole foods. An apple, a cabbage and an egg doesn't have a list of ingredients)”
Again, no surprise here. Sleep is a healing time. And as always, consider one of our weighted blankets (travel size, 10 lb full size, 15 or 20 lb full size). New colours ordered and will arrive in about 2 months (we have them specially made).
Breathe deep and relax. Let your PSNS engage and help you to enjoy spring.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
Chart of physical effects of the ANS
Chart designed for kids
Summary PDF (20 pg) that has all of the basic info
What do you do to engage the PSNS? What do you do to rejuvenate? Drop us a line and we'll let you know if anyone else does the same thing. Thanks in advance for chatting with us