What if I told you that you have the Jedi power to control the unconscious functions of your body?
The automatic nervous system is the control center in the body for the unconscious functions. Most of the changes that happen when the automatic nervous system responds to sympathetic nervous system response and parasympathetic nervous system response are beyond conscious control.
Parasympathetic nervous system response is the calm, peaceful, homeostasis, when you are resting and digesting and not responding to stress or any life or danger situation.
When we learn to notice the physiological signs of stress, or the switch to sympathetic nervous system response in your own body, we can begin to control our unconscious responses, like a Jedi.
We cannot control the stressors and outside influences that cause our body to go into a stress response. Our bills are still going to be due each month, we still need to work, sometimes we need to drive in traffic, in many situations we have to interact with other people at work or the grocery store and such, and there are countless other things that we experience and have interactions with each day that we cannot control.
Our bodies respond to stress, whether we want it to or not and that is a good thing. We do not want to completely turn our bodies stress response off, because there are some times that we need to fight or flight for our protection. However, when we are not running from a bear, we do not need for our bodies to go into a sympathetic nervous system response.
The first step to helping our bodies stay in a parasympathetic nervous system response when we are not in life or death danger, rather we are just under stress in our lives, is to NOTICE when our bodies start responding. If we can train ourselves to notice the first physiological responses to stress, then we can begin to put a stop to that instinctual response when it is not necessary to our protection.
What to NOTICE…
In order to notice when our body is having a physiological response to stress, we must first know what the symptoms of a stress response include:
• The heart rate quickens
• The respiration quicken
• Digestive secretions stop
• Digestive smooth muscle contractions stop
• Sexual arousal is turned off
• Muscles are tense and ready for movement
• Vision is more acute but narrows
There are also a number of secondary symptoms of stress. Especially when we are under chronic stress and our bodies are in a stress response for long periods of time. Chronic stress response can be dangerous in and of itself, causing long term health issues.
After we notice, sometimes we can pinpoint a cause for the physiological response that we just experienced. In that situation, we can remove that trigger for our future self or at least notice when we come in contact with that trigger and stop the response before it starts.
In other situations, our body begins responding to stress when there is no apparent trigger. That is a panic disorder, and a topic for another day.