Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic Nervous System
The PNS and SNS are apart of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for the involuntary functions of the human body.
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
The Sympathetic Nervous System stimulates the fight or flight response. SNS directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. When stimulated, a flash flood of hormones boosts the body’s alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is for growth and repair. PNS conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.
How to Relieve Stress By Stimulating PNS
1. Deep Belly Breathing
Deep intentional belly breathing with your lower abdomen is one of the fastest and easiest ways to awaken your parasympathetic nervous system. This is because of the vagus nerve, a major parasympathetic nerve, that runs from the base of your head, down your ear and throat, and down to your abdominal and digestive organs. Every time you breathe with your belly, you activate your diaphragm and your vagus nerve, which acts as an automatic chill pill!
How to Belly Breathe
- Take a long deep belly breath, hold for 3-5 seconds, blow out slowly for a count of 8 seconds. Repeat.
- This can be done for just a few minutes or longer for a 10-minute relaxation session.
- Repeat again throughout the day (morning, noon, night) for just a few minutes to reduce stress and stimulate healing.
Each session resets the PNS for growth, repair, healing and relaxation, which is critical when dealing with stress.
2. Positivity & Gratitude
Positive feelings like gratitude, love, kindness, contentment, and tranquility arouse the PNS. Create a positive affirmation, Bible verse, or saying that you can look at throughout the day for a quick uplift.
Express thankfulness to others and watch how your outlook begins to change and how your mood becomes empowered. Try writing out a list of everything you are thankful for and seriously practice counting your blessings.
3. Meditation Apps
There are a handful of great apps, but a favorite is Relax Lite: Stress and Anxiety Relief by Saagra. Download this free app for awesome breathing and meditations sessions.