Stressed and tensed: response of the nervous system to stressful input
For the purposes of clarity, we divide the nervous system into three sub-categories: the direct, or central, division includes brain and spinal cord while the peripheral group includes the autonomic and somatic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system is the most involved in the body’s stress response because of a further subdivision known as the sympathetic nervous system or SNS.
The sub-division is thus:
Central nervous system –> Peripheral subdivision –> Autonomic nervous system –> sympathetic nervous system
Read more to find out how stress interacts with the sympathetic nervous system and what we can do about it.
Stress has a very acute effect on the nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight or flight response which means that when the human perceives a threat and this response kicks in, the body automatically devotes much of its resources to fighting or fleeing. Chemically, this spurs the SNS to release hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol, both very useful and practical in situations of extreme danger or duress. However, your heart beating faster, your breathing becoming shallower and your blood glucose levels increasing is hardly helpful if you aren’t actually fighting or fleeing from, say, a bear.
When stress becomes chronic
Normally, once the perceived threat is over, the body should return to homeostasis, but chronic stress creates a drag on the body and often leaves you feeling drained. Repeated and prolonged activation of the nervous system takes a toll on the other systems of the body.
I know that my chronic stress is taking a toll but what can I do about it?
There are many things you can do personally regarding lifestyle and behavior but they won’t have as great an effect if your nervous system is still misfiring. Every part or division of the nervous system is interlinked and all of them affect the other systems of the body. Therefore to being reducing stress, we should start at the source: chiropractic maintains spinal alignment so that the central nervous system can function properly, facilitating smooth communication between brain and body. This is a critical way to exert control over stress in your life.