Stress Awareness Month: How 21st century life messes with the intricate balance of our ‘fight or flight’ system
In a state of ‘fight or flight’ (as the tiger jumps out at you), a part of your nervous system called the ‘Sympathetic Nervous System’ is dominant. When the ‘Sympathetic Nervous System’ is dominant, your ‘fight or flight’ reaction is turned on in your body. As explained in our last blog, your mouth goes dry, your heart rate hits the roof and you notice that you’re breathing heavily… You are poised and ready to run away VERY FAST! However, once the danger has passed, your body should immediately return to a more relaxed state called ‘Parasympathetic Dominance’.
Only one side of the nervous system can be dominant at any one time, and we are designed to spend only about five percent of our lives in ‘Sympathetic Dominance’; basically, we don’t expect to be jumped upon by a tiger very frequently!
How does this impact your body?
We need to remember that 21st century life is very different to caveman life. We all live in varying states of stress at all times, from the stock trader in the incredibly high-pressured environment on the stock market floor to a mother being stuck in a traffic jam when the kids need picking up from school. Our modern-day lifestyle simply means that we live in a state of ‘Sympathetic Dominance’ to a far higher degree than we were designed for.
It has been discovered that a significant increase in conditions such as Cardiovascular Disease, Depression and Anxiety, Auto-Immune Diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Early-Onset Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and even Impotence and difficulty conceiving can all be linked directly to the increased proportion of an individual’s life spent in ‘Sympathetic Dominance’.
There are many ways of addressing the proportion of your life you spend in ‘Sympathetic Dominance’ – and not just eliminating the stressors because sometimes, this is simply impossible.
Join us next week to read a little bit more about how Alba can help you to implement these techniques into your day-to-day life!