Rest And Digest 01-09-12

The key for optimum health is a proper balance between the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The sympathetic nervous system is what activates the “flight or fight” response. It is triggered by stress and fear, even drugs such as caffeine, and allows us to react, similar to the way we did when we would escape a predator thousands of years ago. It causes the heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, and pushes most blood flow to the extremities in order to move and react. Unlike our days living in the wild, our new environment still triggers a “flight or fight” response but in a different way. This is a state often sustained all day long by information overload, stressful relationships, demanding work schedules, children and anything else that is STRESS. It is of a chronic nature, and a major contributor to cormormidities such as high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity.

The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), on the other hand, is called the “rest and digest” system. It conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and glandular activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. When our bodies are in this state, blood flow can return to our digestive system, reproductive system, and healing and regeneration can only occur. Our body can now assimilate the food that we put into it. But switching from PSNS to SNS can take some time. Have you ever noticed that when you take off for a vacation, it takes you anywhere from 1 to 3 days to relax? That is your body shifting from the SNS to the PSNS. True rest and relaxation can only occur once this happens, and the body is then able to begin the process of self-healing, which it is absolutely designed to do.

Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night, and/or use medication to help you fall asleep?

Do you have an upset stomach most of the time, and have difficulty digesting food?


If you answered yes to some of these questions then you may benefit from some of the ways to slip into parasympathetic tone. A couple easy remedies, besides an expensive caribean vacation, are:


Deep breathing techniques, meditation, or yoga

Eating your lunch in a quiet place away from the computer

Avoiding excessive caffeine use

…and there are many more…

It is a stressful world we live in. But the human animal was not designed to be in a stressed state all the time. Take some time to rest and digest. Your body will thank you for it.


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