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Author: Peyton DeMaio

Triggers Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Parasympathetic vs. Sympathetic Responses

Parasympathetic vs Sympathetic Illustration by Tra Mi

Triggers Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Parasympathetic vs. Sympathetic Responses

By Peyton DeMaio

Why Do We Get Triggered?

We experience being triggered as a natural reaction to dangerous or otherwise stressful circumstances. Essentially, our body systems are at work to keep us alive in what we perceive as a life-threatening situation. Without consciously deciding what to do, the brain and body can observe what is going on and assess how we can best survive the event we are faced with.

The term “triggered” stems from an ingrained reaction that dates back to our oldest ancestors when confronted with danger in their environment. They had two options: to face the threat or to flee. In either scenario, the body prepares itself to deal with the situation at hand. This has been passed down and deeply ingrained into our bodily systems today to serve as a means of protection from threats, whether real or perceived.

Your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): The Silent Director of Your Body

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the behind-the-scenes director managing your body’s essential functions—heartbeat, breathing, blood flow, temperature, and stress response. It has two main players:

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS): Meet the Action Hero When stress or high-energy situations arise, the SNS steps up. Picture it as your action hero, activated during tough days or intense workouts. It slows down non-essential functions like digestion, redirecting energy to boost muscle power and reflexes.

The catch? The SNS can’t hit pause on its own. It needs a signal from its counterpart to bring everything back to normal.

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS): The Restful Sidekick The PNS plays the role of the sidekick, restoring calm after the action-packed scenes orchestrated by the SNS. It slows down heart and breathing rates, aids muscle recovery, and promotes deep, restful sleep.

Essentially, the PNS is crucial for rest, recovery, digestion, and overall well-being. Spending quality time in this state is the key to optimal health.

Optimizing Your Body’s Director: Tips for Better Performance

  • SNS: Your go-to for challenges and exercise, keeping you focused and energized. However, it can’t hit the off switch by itself. The PNS needs to step in and bring you back to baseline.
  • PNS: Your buddy for rest and recovery. It’s all about slowing down and letting your body recover. Spending enough time here is essential for the best results. If stress sidelines it, your recovery takes a hit.

In essence, achieving peak performance and recovery is about giving both the action hero and the restful sidekick their moments in the spotlight. Balance is the key to letting your body’s silent director work its magic.

 

 

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