When you think about stress and the mind, you probably think about overwhelming feelings or emotion instability. But what about how stress affects our bodies, and more specifically, how it affects the nervous system?
Stress has the ability to influence all systems of the body, including respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine and more. The nervous system is particularly responsive to stress as it is the system that works to regulate each of the unconscious bodily functions such as heart rate, urination and respiratory rate.
We are going to explore exactly what happens to the nervous system when we are stressed. As well as some of the methods used to help deal with it. Let’s get started!
What Happens to the Nervous System When We Are Stressed?
The nervous system is the control centre responsible for bodily functions. It’s made up of two systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
You’ve probably heard of the fight or flight response which is a reaction that’s controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. In today’s world, we often see fight or flight as a response to the stressful situations that occur in our lives.
Types of Stress that Affect the Nervous System
Similar to the nervous systems, there are two kinds of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is represented by an immediate reaction to a situation we perceive as threatening. Once this perceived threat is gone, our stress hormones return to their normal levels and no long-term effects take place.
Chronic stress on the other hand is an ongoing stress that doesn’t necessarily happen because of a trigger. It can be damaging to our health because it brings on a stress hormone called cortisol which can stick around in your body all day.
Too much cortisol can mean for a number of health problems such as weight gain, hormone imbalances, heart disease, inflammation and diabetes.
Stress and the Brain
The release of cortisol into your system due to stress can also have effects on the brain. As well as how it works with the rest of your body. The stress response tells the brains to send a signal to the adrenal glands they should release adrenaline. This release can cause high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, or increased heart rate.
Cortisol damages the brain as well, as it can kill cells in the hippocampus and age the brain.
Ways to Deal with Stress
It’s evident that stress can affect the nervous system and the brain, which isn’t exactly great when it comes to those dealing with prolonged periods of stress. We’ve put together a few of the best ways to limit stress and give your body, brain, and nervous system the break they need.
Spend Time Outside
There’s a reason they call it the great outdoors! Sunlight alone can do wonders for making you feel good. It gives you a vitamin D boost and helps to increase your levels of serotonin. Which ultimately helps you to feel good.
A change of scenery is also sometimes all it takes to give your mind and body the reset they need. Any chance you can take to get outside and leave your usual personal space can be great for dealing with stress.
Although you might not always be in the mood for activity when you’re feeling stressed, it can be incredibly helpful. Exercise helps your body to produce endorphins which are hormones that boost your energy and help you stay calm.
An exercise routine might not be something you jump in to full force right from the get go. But incorporating little bits of movement into your day and gradually increasing it can help you to be better equipped when stressful challenges come your way.
Develop and Stick to a Routine
Humans are creatures of habit, but it’s essential to develop and stick to a healthy routine. It could be adding in a little bit of self-care into your week with a massage, or ensuring you get out for a walk in the mornings.
The idea is to create a schedule that works for you. Then your schedule (or lack thereof) isn’t something that becomes stressful itself.
Get into a Good Sleep Routine
One of the most important parts of your everyday routine is your sleep routine. And sleeping too much isn’t exactly the answer to limiting or managing your stress.
Too little sleep can also mean more stress in your life. Especially if you end up too tired during the day to complete your tasks. Find the sweet spot for the amount of sleep that works for you and get into a routine of meeting it each and every night.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation
One of the best ways to limit stress and enhance well-being is by stimulating the vagus nerve. This method of stress limitation works because the vagus nerve is responsible for mediating the parasympathetic nervous system.
As the vagus nerve becomes stimulated, it delivers signals that slow your heart rate, your breathing, rebalance your blood flow, etc. It puts you into a relaxed state and helps you to cope with any current ongoing stress.
Stress may affect the body without us wanting to, but luckily, we have methods such as this one to tell the body what we want it to do. Which in this case is to calm down and relax.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation with Neuvana
These are a few of our favorite ways to limit stress. If you’re looking to try out vagus nerve stimulation and are wondering how to approach it, be sure to check out Xen by Neuvana.
Our headphones allow you to experience the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation in an attainable, non-invasive way.
The headphones can help you manage anxious feelings, allow your body to recover quicker from stress, and help you get a better night's sleep—each of which is important for improving your overall mental health.
This compact, portable, and rechargeable technology can be used just about anywhere. Learn more about using the Xen headphones and get started on your journey towards dealing with stress and helping your mind and body to thrive.