4 Feb 2012

Stress and body states

I'm sure that by now everyone is aware of the havock stress will wreak on our bodies, but I thought I might elaborate on that a bit today.

Your body has two states it can be in, sympathetic and parasympathetic, both are useful in their own ways but can also cause health issues if their is not balance.

The Sympathetic state is catabolic, and is most often referred to as the 'fight or flight' state, the state that our body goes into when we are doing vigorous activity, when we are excited, scared or nervous. It is in this state that our heart rate increase, pupils dilate, we sweat, breath deeply etc. which is essential functions when we are in the aformentioned activities.

The Parasympathetic state is anabolic, and is referred to as the 'housekeeping' state. It is in this state that our body goes through the necessary functions such as digestion, elimination and resting, essential for our body to heal, grow and to recieve the nourishment it needs.

 When in the sympathetic state, our body is basically in a constant state of go, which means it is using all of its energy stores for defense and to prepare for activities rather than nourishment. When our energy stores are depleted, we begin to feel exhausted and irritable.  We have to let our body rest at this point in order for the much meeded 'housekeeping' functions to begin once again. This is why, after a big meal, we become tired and need to rest, because our bodies need to switch to parasympathetic state in order to digest the food.

It is extremely important for one's health that our bodies have balance bewtween the two states, ensuring that we can rest easily when needed and perform vigorous tasks when needed also.

Remaining in one state too often causes great stress on the body and many health issues can arise. 

Too often being in sympathetic state can cause aggression, anxiety, irritability, copious sweating, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

Too often being in parasympathetic state can cause fatigue, and make one prone to depression, low blood pressure, metal toxicity and more.

[picture source: here]

Human Anatomy & Physiology - Elaine N. Marieb, Katja Hoehn (eighth edition)


  1. Very informative. Balance is key, I got to work on it. Thanks.

  2. Liking your post, I'm always wittering on about the fight or flight state to people! It's a hard task keeping our bodies in harmony, that's why I also witter on about deep breathing. Do you relate to the chakras? I've been studying it recently for massage therapy, very different to paraphysiology and everything I've previously learned from a scientific point of view, but I'm really starting to enjoy and make sense of it :)

    1. I do get right into the chakra's. I regularly practice self Reiki, meditation, and use crystals on my chakra's when needed. I also bought a Shakti mat recently which is one of the most amazing things ever. I just find it all so fascinating.

      I struggle with the deep breathing part when im stressed, I need to put sticky notes everywhere just reminding me to 'Breath' haha :)

    2. I haven't quite worked up to a Shakti mat yet although a friend that has one say's it's brilliant and really relaxing - certainly helped her back problems and she say's she feels much less stressed as a result. So who knows, I might purchase one yet! Haven't tried Reiki yet, did you have to get someone to attune you? You see, that's what confuses me! With all your sticky notes, the people that make post it's will love you haha :)

    3. Shakti mats are extremely relaxing, my partner always falls asleep on it :) I wasn't attuned to Reiki, I just read a book about it then started practicing on myself, and was surprisingly good at it (without meaning to sound stuck up). I did see a Reiki master who told me I seemed really attuned which I was happy about, but it just one of those things that I have a real connection with. Pity I don't have that connection with my chemistry and biochemistry subjects, then i'd have something to be excited about haha

    4. I totally get where you're coming from! Well after hearing (or rather reading) you say that I'm gonna give it a go, will let you know how I get on!! Oh my, that mat does sound good too!! :)

    5. I've just realised I wrote paraphysiology (a new subject to be perhaps?!), meant to write pathophysiology lol. I think this is because I've been reading about parapsychology lately and my brain is in need of being rewired ha ha!! :)

  3. Hahaha when I read it I thought "oh that's something I haven't heard of yet!" I mix words all the time when i'm in study mode too :)