The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) automatically communicates with your body to help your body respond to demands. Recall when you have been exercising, walking up a steep hill or running, your heart rate increases so you may access more oxygen as you continue exercising.

When you think or sense that you may be in danger or under threat, your SNS will immediately increase your heart rate and respiration to prepare you for fight or flight. When your SNS is aroused, you may feel a surge of energy or feel a little shaky, and alert. This is the adrenaline that is activated in your body to prepare for you for fight or flight.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) functions to calm the body. Recall a time when you felt fully relaxed, totally safe and secure, recall the feeling of calm, the stillness in your mind and body. That’s the PNS helping your body to feel calm.

To counter a SNS response, the PNS can be activated by slow, deep breathing. When stress is experienced, your SNS is aroused, therefore one of the ways you can alleviate stress is to purposely activate your PNS by facilitating slow deep breathing.

PNS Activation – Calm the Body with the Breath

1. Start – breathing in slowly (following the first line upward) for a count of four,
2. Hold (following the small line at the top with the blue shape) for a count of one,
3. Begin slowly breathing out (following the second line with the arrow pointing down) for a count of four,
4. Hold (following the small line at the bottom with the blue shape) for a count of one.
5. Follow the lines with the breath, breathing in, holding, breathing out and holding to the End.
6. Follow for 3 or more cycles. Notice and feel your body naturally calm.

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During the activity if you feel dizzy or light headed, immediately resume normal breathing.

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Reflect

What stood out?

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Make your PNS Activation a habit, experience the advantages, and practice once, twice or more each day.

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