While there may not be much you can do about your genes, there is much you can do with diet, lifestyle, and thought processing to moderate how you react to stress.
by Judith G Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
Anxiety, joy, happiness, love, pain, heat, cold – every emotion and every sensation experienced by us alters the chemical balance in our brains, and those chemicals can make us feel uptight or relaxed. They are how messages are sent throughout our bodies. This communication system, the nervous system, is divided into several parts. We are going to focus on the autonomic part of this intricate system.
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that works without us consciously thinking about it, and that’s a good thing because it regulates breathing, digestion, reactions to stress, and much more. Some people think of this as the ‘automatic’ nervous system.
The autonomic system further subdivides into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system has sympathy for whatever situation you are in. If a bear starts chasing you, this nervous system speeds up your heart rate and breathing, increases your blood pressure, dilates your pupils to increase your peripheral vision, and stops your digestion to divert energy and blood to your large muscles to help you run faster.
The parasympathetic system restores you to your normal, relaxed balance when the threat of the bear is over. It slows down your heart rate and breathing, reduces your blood pressure, constricts your pupils to the appropriate size for the available light, allows your digestion to start up again, and restores the circulation throughout your body.
The adrenal glands, especially, have a very intimate relationship with the nervous system. As the brain receives and interprets stimuli as stressful, messages are sent to the adrenal glands to stimulate the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for the ‘ramping up’ of the responses of the sympathetic system. When the threat is over and the brain recognizes it as such, it sends new, more calm messages through the parasympathetic system to stimulate the adrenals to release acetylcholine which triggers the ramping down process.
Specific markings in your eyes will show whether you are genetically prone to spending a lot of time in the sympathetic or the parasympathetic state. While there may not be much you can do about your genes, there is much you can do with diet, lifestyle, and thought processing to moderate how your nervous system works.
In the following video, learn more about ways to support the healthy function of your nervous system:
Copyright © 2018 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).