Many of us are stuck in a chronic sympathetic stress response in our nervous system today. We have been overloaded with stressors from many sources, such as toxins, poor food choices, EMF stress, financial, emotional, even societal and media stress. We can also have old trauma's keeping our SNS stuck in an 'on' position. We push to continue on not truly able to relax and reset.
Our autonomic Nervous System is comprised of two parts - the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic (PNS). The parasympathetic system should be dominant, which provides our ability to rest, relax, renew, heal, and digest. When a stress occurs, the SNS increases and puts us into flight or flight, or a stress response. Our cortisol levels go up and other stress hormones are increased. It will reduce our PNS and reduce our ability to to do our normal functions well. When one goes up, the other goes down.
What I see consistently in our practice is chronic stress in the SNS and a reduced PNS. It is like having your foot on the gas all the time, and not being able to put on the brakes to slow down. Our endocrine system, blood sugar, metabolism, immune and digestive system all start to suffer. Inflammation is also increased when our PNS is not strong. This is often the case with chronic fatigue conditions, fibromyalgia, auto-immune problems, heart conditions, anxiety, depression, and many other chronic health conditions.
How do we return our PNS to normal and decrease the stress response? There are a number of ways that are very beneficial. Certain herbs, like Ashwaghanda, Magnolia, Rhodiola and B vitamins can support relaxing the stress in the body. But is that temporary? What else can we do?
The Vagus Nerve controls parasympathetic nervous system functioning in the body, so boosting the activity of the vagus nerve should increase PNS functioning and reduce the SNS activity. There are many ways to do this. Developing the mind/body practices of Yoga, Qi Gong, and/or Meditation are most beneficial for calming the nervous system over time to restore balance.
Taking several deep breaths intentionally and slowly while focusing on one point will immediately relax the inner stress which affects every part of your body and stimulates the Vagus nerve. We often don't think of using this simple technique.
Another suggestion I have is to use Lavender essential oil, which calms anxiety and stress, also reduces pain. I recommend applying it just under the ear and slide it down the neck. This is where the Vagus nerve is closest to the surface. Also the temples and back of the neck can also help calm stress. This can often alleviate anxiety as well.
Previous trauma's can actually 'lock in' our SNS stress response and it tells the body it is not ok to relax and let your guard down! When this happens, the nervous system actually needs to be 'reset'. Bio-Energy Balancing and DNA Clearing clearing of old stuck energy patterns can be most beneficial here for lasting results to restore balance. Often a series of 5 sessions may be the most beneficial, like peeling off layers of an onion as we get down to the root core to clear it completely.
Once it is reset, then the body can be supported to come back into healthy, balanced functioning again. Without the reset, it is like constantly trying to put out fires, and our normal body functions get exhausted and decline. Our oxidative stress levels are also increased substantially, creating more mitochondrial decline, inflammation and fatigue. So perhaps if you have been over-stressed for extended periods, it is time to pay attention to what your nervous system is telling your body. Relax and renew your system before the impact of decline in your health gets too much to bear.
Jane Smolnik is a Naturopathic Doctor and Iridologist based in Asheville, NC. She specializes in stress and fatigue conditions as well as auto-immune. She works with people from all over by phone or web conferencing. Please visit her website at UltimateHealing.com or call 828-777-5263 for more info.