Rest and Digest - Your Parasympathetic Nervous System
The parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system, is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Its main function is to slow down the body's metabolic processes and conserve energy when the body is at rest or in a relaxed state.
Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system results in a decrease in heart rate, an increase in digestion and the relaxation of the smooth muscles in the body. It also regulates the release of certain hormones such as insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.
The parasympathetic nervous system works in opposition to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for activating the "fight or flight" response. While the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for action, the parasympathetic nervous system returns the body to a state of calm and balance.
To promote relaxation and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, it is important to engage in activities that promote calm and tranquility such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and spending time in nature.
Here are 3 activities you can do to activate the parasympathetic nervous system:
Practice deep breathing exercises for a few minutes every day. This can be as simple as inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth.
Try yoga or other relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or guided imagery.
Take a walk in nature, and take time to focus on your surroundings and take deep breaths, this will help you connect with the environment and promote a sense of calmness.