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Sympathetic response to stress

By:

Vidhi Shastri, PT, CFMT

Stress (fear, panic, anxiety) leads to activating the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). When you are in that mode the brain secretes hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to keep you wide awake – your pupils dilate, heart rate increases, blood is diverted to areas in need of extra blood and oxygen and you become hyper vigilant as you are preparing to flee or fight.

What happens when this phase continues longer – like it is right now with these unprecedented times?

Long term effects from the ramped up sympathetic system will cause increased sensitivity in the peripheral nerves in the body, sleep disturbance (unable to get into deep phases), changes in the digestive system, increase development of trigger points, irritability, increased pain – leading to exhaustion.

A lot of things can help balance the nervous system… like specialized manual therapy that focuses on treatment of the nerves and brain, mindfulness and meditation, yoga, sleep hygiene and aerobic exercise.

Follow up for the next phase of the stress cycle – endocrine system coming up in my next blog.

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