The Autonomic Nervous System controls numerous parts of your body automatically and without your conscious effort. Things like digestion, respiration, circulation, and heart rate. It has a significant influence on your immune, endocrine, muscular, and nervous systems. It is run automatically and is primarily directed by the primitive parts of your brain, especially the brain stem. A crucial role of this primitive or reptilian brain is protection. It does that through protective reflexes aimed at quickly altering body systems in order to respond to danger. When a dog runs out snarling and barking at you unexpectedly, you startle and prepare for action – this is an example of your Autonomic Nervous System at work. It has two components; the sympathetic, which ramps you up for danger, and the parasympathetic, which calms you down balancing the stimulation of the sympathetic.
Unfortunately in our modern world we have too many stressors, or sympathetic activation, and too many of those stressors where we don’t complete the act of “fight or flight”. When a car cuts you off, when your boss yells at you, when you’re frustrated because you’re in a job you don’t like -‐ all these activate your fight or flight response causing chemical and physiological changes in your body. When we don’t complete the act of fight or flight, those stressors get trapped in our body. Add to that real dangers such as a car accident, trauma, surgery, etc. and you can see how your nervous system becomes one-‐sided, operating primarily out of the sympathetic mode.
When we operate from the sympathetic mode, our primitive protective muscles (primarily in the head, neck, and spine) carry increased tension and tone ready for action. This does not allow them to relax, causes metabolic changes in the tissues, and can be a major factor in chronic pain. Add in the other systems affected by an over active sympathetic nervous system and you get changes throughout your body that can cause cognitive problems, fatigue, gut problems, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and a host of systemic problems that are difficult for physicians to find a cause for.
So, what can we do? Get to the root of the problem instead of chasing the symptoms. By reprogramming and rebooting the Autonomic Nervous System, we can allow the body to function like it was designed to function. This includes a relaxed nervous system, relaxed muscles, and body systems operating in a balance of stimulation and rest. The rest is easy – the body works and repairs itself like it was designed to do. The body really is an amazing thing, and given the environment it was designed to operate around, it can perform miracles. For more information on this reprogramming, see my web site or call me at 970.749.5308.