Had a tough day? Feeling stressed out? Maybe you've just finished a hard work out? Chances are, you are operating in a state of SYMPATHETIC nervous activity...
Our SYMPATHETIC nervous system is responsible for our "FIGHT OR FLIGHT" response, and acts on the systems of the body to help us perform at our peak. This is highly important, as it allows us to run faster, jump higher and increase productivity. Physiological changes such as increased heart rate & blood pressure, sweat response, hormone release (Cortisol, Adrenaline, etc), etc, all allow us to achieve our peak at any given moment.
UNFORTUNATELY, far too many of us live in a state of SYMPATHETIC nervous activity far more than needed. Over-stimulation, anxiety and pressures of the modern world mean we often struggle to return to a state of PARASYMPATHETIC ACTIVITY...
So WHY does this matter???
Our PARA-SYMPATHETIC nervous system is responsible for "REST, DIGEST & RECOVER", meaning if we don't spend the majority of our time in this state, something is going to suffer... Long term issues may include adrenal fatigue/ burn out, weight gain, chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease & stroke. Short term issues may include changes in sleep patterns, general lethargy & fatigue, anxiety & depression, etc. There is strong evidence to now show that athletic performance & training adaptations are also increased when we get to a state of recovery sooner. (Ie.return to para-sympathetic nervous activity).
So, if you want to not only feel & perform better, but also become the happiest & healthiest version of yourself, then it makes sense to spend some time on enhancing your recovery.
The simplest way to return to a PARA-SYMPATHETIC state is to complete PARA-SYMPATHETIC BREATHING.
-Inhale for 4 seconds
-Hold for 4 seconds
-Exhale for 8 seconds
-Repeat for 6 minutes
(Side note: fitting in as little as 6 breathes of the above has been shown to decrease Cortisol by up to 50%!!!)
So, the next time you are feeling STRESSED OUT or TIRED, why not take 6 minutes, have a lye down and simply breathe...