When the nervous system is at peace, the mind is also at peace.
2 MINUTE READ
UPDATED MAY 17, 2023
AFFERENT NERVES: THE BODY'S INPUT TO THE MIND
It is well known that the nervous system is the control center for the body and that it regulates the body's functions. What is not as well known is that the nervous system is also a major source of input for the mind - as 80% of nerves in the body are afferent, running from the body towards the brain. The mind and the nervous system are intimately connected, and when the mind is at peace, the nervous system is also at peace. When the mind is stressed, the nervous system is also stressed.
The nervous system is designed to protect us from danger. When we perceive a threat, the nervous system kicks into gear and prepares us to fight or flee. This response is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for all of the body's automatic survival responses, such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased respiration.
THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC DYSREGULATION
While the fight-or-flight response is essential for survival, it is not meant to be a chronic state. When the body is in a state of chronic stress, it can lead to a number of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety. Left unchecked, the body will perceive this stress as a new normal, and send stress signals to the mind even when no external input suggests that stress is necessary.
HOW TO MAINTAIN A PEACEFUL NERVOUS SYSTEM
There are a number of ways to keep the mind and body at peace. One is to practice meditation or mindfulness. This can help to train the mind to focus on the present moment and to let go of stressors that are not currently present. Another way to keep the mind and body at peace is to exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Exercise also helps to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol.
Finally, it is important to get enough sleep. Sleep is when the body and mind rest and repair. When we are sleep-deprived, we are more likely to be irritable and to have difficulty concentrating. We are also more likely to make poor decisions. Getting enough sleep is essential for keeping the mind and body at peace.
When the mind and body are at peace, the nervous system is also at peace - the two influence each other in each and every moment.