How stress happens and what you can do about it
In this article, we‘re taking a brief look at the body’s autonomous nervous system. This will give you a basic understanding of what’s happening in your body when you feel stress or anxiety.
The autonomous nervous system adjusts our body to changes in the environment. It’s constantly working in the background, and we have only limited, indirect control over it.
There are two components in the autonomous nervous system that control mainly opposite functions of our body. These are called the sympathetic- and the parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system
- Has an activating effect. It prepares the body for an intensive physical response and is often referred to as fight-or-flight.
- Tends to take over immediately in case of a real or perceived danger.
- When active, the heart rate is increased, blood pressure is raised, pupils are dilated and digestions is inhibited. In other words: It puts us in a heightened sense of awareness to be prepared for potential threats.
- Is dormant most of the time.
The parasympathetic nervous system
- Has a calming effect. It prepares the body to recover and is often referred to as rest-and-digest.
- Takes over after the danger has passed and gradually returns the body systems to normal.
- When active, heart rate is reduced, blood pressure is lowered, pupils are narrowed, and digestion is increased. In other words, your body relaxes.
- Is active most of the time.
Stress vs Anxiety
Let’s quickly distinguish between stress and anxiety:
Stress is often caused by external events. The sudden loss of a loved one, a car recklessly cutting in, an unexpected bill or the boss yelling at you, are just a few examples. Stress can manifest in a variety of ways: It can make you sad, angry, worried, or anxious.
Anxiety, this sense of fear that puts us on alert, is one of the internal responses that can arise as a result of stress. It is a part of your body’s stress response, but can also manifest on its own, without any external trigger or cause.
How to stop stress responses
Cardiac coherence breathing exercise
Was this tutorial helpful? Please share it:
If you haven’t downloaded Breath Ball yet, now is a good time to do so. You can find it free of charge at: