To give you an idea of the correlation between the nervous system, relaxation techniques and healthy living, we will cover the following topics:
- An overview of the nervous system
- How meditation and other relaxation techniques effect the nervous system
- Potential disorders caused by an unbalanced nervous system
- Show yourself some TLC
An Overview of the Nervous System
Your nervous system consists of several kinds of electrical systems that effect your body and all organs. Within you, there lies specially designed cells (neurons) that work in tandem with the nerves to cause the body to perform functions and actions. When it is out of balance, due to stress or illness, for instance, your nervous system is incapable of functioning at its optimal best. Left unchecked, you stop being healthy and you lose the ability to function on almost any level.
The two major nervous systems are the central (comprised of the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral (mostly made up of nerves that carry signals through your body) systems. In this article, we will discuss two systems which are part of the autonomic nervous system, which is within the peripheral system.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) stimulates the fight, flight, or freeze response your body has in a stressful or frightening situation. The fight and flight responses activate if you feel that there is some hope to fight or to outrun the person or danger. The freeze response is activated by your sympathetic nervous system when you believe there is no hope. This response makes you immobile and incapable of immediate action.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) stimulates positive responses which cause you to rest, digest, repair, and reproduce. It is activated when the body is in a natural, relaxed state. Activities like tai chi, yoga, and meditation are among techniques that keep the parasympathetic system in good shape. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work in conjunction with each other, whether they are healthy and balanced or not.
How Meditation and Other Relaxation Techniques Effect the Nervous System
While the exact science behind your nervous system may seem complicated, how it is functioning is easy to determine. Whatever you are doing, (even sleeping) your body is reacting with the assistance of your nervous system. Even reading this article, the brain in your central nervous system is sending various signals throughout your body and organs. But what if you are feeling very stressful or anxious?
Without methods to ease the mind and body into a state of relaxation, you will eventually end up in a fight, flight, or freeze state of being, which can lead to a cycle of unhealthy stress. There are several ways to achieve a level of relaxation, whatever you are doing (or if you’re doing nothing at all). These include:
-Deep breathing. Controlling your breathing improves the function of the mind and the body. It can be done anywhere. There are several techniques, but the easiest way is to deliberately slow down your breathing and inhale from the nose and exhale from the mouth. Deep breathing has been proven to enhance calmness and relaxation and to lower blood pressure, among other benefits.
-Meditation. It has been proven that meditation soothes the effects of tension, depression, and fatigue on the nervous system. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart and breathing. It soothes the fight, flight, and freeze functions. You can research from a wide variety of meditation techniques for one that you will enjoy and get the most benefit.
-Yoga. Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance.
-Tai Chi. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.
Potential Disorders Caused by an Unbalanced Nervous System
Staying healthy should be a life priority for people of any age or gender. There is a distinct relationship between your health and well-being and your nervous system. Keep it in a healthy balance with proper nutrition and relaxation techniques involving the mind and body. By doing so, you can potentially avoid health problems such as:
- Functional disorders of the nervous system, like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis
- Vascular disorders ranging from poor circulation to stroke
- Persistent pain such as headaches or back pain
- Infections in the brain, spinal cord and other areas
Additionally, studies have concluded that relaxation techniques may help manage existing health conditions such as insomnia, some forms of anxiety, and chronic pain. Every individual has a unique set of health circumstances, so we advise that you consult with a health professional about your decision to engage in relaxation techniques, especially if you are being treating for an existing health condition.
Show Yourself Some Love
The problems caused by an unhealthy nervous system are not always life-threatening. However, you, like everyone, certainly deserve to feel good each day. You can accomplish this goal by committing to engage in activities which regenerate your mind, body, and spirit. Make the time to give yourself what you need at your own pace.
Although they are necessary for some people, prescription and over-the counter medications may have other side effects which are contrary to this goal. Self-love can begin by exploring natural methods to get superior nervous system functionality, starting with eating healthy. Whether you choose deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, meditation or any combination of these, there is no question that you will find the key to tapping into your unique state of harmonious balance.