Every system in our body is critically controlled by two opposing mechanism:
- The speed up (sympathetic) – is the fright, flight and flee mechanism. It is the get up and go. It helps your brain think and the body move. It causes the heart to race when you fall in love for the 1st time and the lungs to quicken their pace as you sprint to the finish line. However, unfortunately it causes the adrenal glands to constantly pump stress hormones into the system when you just cannot seem to get away from the hard times.
- The slow down (parasympathetic) – is the rest and digest mechanism. It is the chill out and relax. It quietens the mind from racing thoughts and allows the body time to heal. It initiates digestive function and forces the eyes to close to deal with that heavy meal you just consumed. It is the mechanism that craves your next holiday so you can take a break from the stress hormones.
The traditional Chinese and Indian medicine philosophies spoke abundantly about setting up your life to follow the tide between these two systems. Within every day, week, month, year, decade and life, you should have time for the speed up (which happens automatically) and time dedicated for the slow down (this needs more conscious choices).
A generalized discussion on anything in nature will demonstrate this important rhythmic balance between the two opposing forces. Simply think about cycles of change that occur between the cold weather we having now and the longing for the warmth of summer.
Now let us step out of normal into the reality that is the chaos of the world around you and I. One can quickly see how we are a world of sympathetic dominance…constant speed up. If you do not see it, merely ask yourself how well you sleep? Do you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep the entire night, wake up fresh, have great dreams and remember them? Every night! I have never seen this…
This results in autonomic disturbance, which is linked heavily to the largest causes of disability – arthritis, spinal problems, heart issues and depression amongst other diseases spanning every system of the body. 5% of South Africans are suffering with severe disability…i.e. they are unable to work or live normal life. 5% is not many but how many people are constantly living with this disturbance, decreased functionality and productivity, suffering and unfortunately leading down the road towards more severe disability. The truth of the matter is – we are not showing any signs of slowing down so this 5% may well be much greater in 20 years from now…more importantly if you are currently symptom free yet your personal chaos is only getting worse, where will you be in 20 years from now?
Stop now! Take a deep breath in and more importantly breathe out as long as you can…now make a sustainable change.