Stressful conditions occur in our everyday lives, either through work, a new environment, relationships or more. The way our body responds to this is through the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is activated when our body senses a perceived threat (e.g., fire alarm) that causes our body to remain in a high-alert mode. We start sweating, our pupils dilate, and our heartbeat increases. This response is no doubt a survival instinct that keeps us safe from danger, however, being unable to activate the parasympathetic system also endangers the body and mind.
The parasympathetic system allows the body to relax when the perceived threat is finally absent. In certain cases when one is unable to activate the relaxation response, the stressors will continue to accumulate and create more serious reactions that will heavily influence the health of the individual, such as insomnia, muscle tension, high blood pressure, and more. To help resolve these conditions, there are exercises that one can practice in order to stimulate the relaxation response, including: Breath Work, Meditation, Progressive Relaxation and Visualization/ Guided Imagery. It is almost impossible for us to fully avoid stress, but we can always learn how to deal with it.
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