We have different types of nervous systems in our body. Stress is what triggers the nervous system, starting with our thoughts.

To understand how this is happening, let’s look at how are bodies are “wired.” First, we have the central nervous system, which is our brain and spinal cord. Then branching out from that, is the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system has branches into the sensory (feeling, touch) and motor (movement) nervous systems. Then the motor nervous system branches yet again into: the autonomic and somatic nervous system.

The one I want to touch upon is the autonomic nervous system and includes two systems:

Parasympathetic (flow state) and Sympathetic (survival state)

When we are stressed out, it starts with our thoughts.

Here’s how…

Our thoughts, sends signals out through releasing chemicals, peptides, and hormones. The signals and substances released turns on our sympathetic nervous system automatically without us even being aware or thinking of it. The sensations we feel in our body are what we call “feelings.”

For example, the thought, “I don’t have time.”

We start thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have time, I can’t do this right now. Why isn’t somebody helping.” All these thoughts start flooding in.

Feel what that feels like in your body. Really tune in.

How does that make your body feel?

What you’re feeling is the sympathetic state (aka anxiety, overwhelm, worry):

  • Your muscles get really tight and tense. 
  • Your heart starts racing. 
  • You’re breathing really fast. 
  • You might get a little lightheaded, dizzy
  • Feel tightness in your chest or your throat.

Those are all symptoms of being in a sympathetic, or survival state.

Unfortunately, most of us live in this state most of the day…almost 24/7. We immediately go into sympathetic upon waking up with our list of “to-do’s, don’t forgets, I should have said/done that differently”. Then we go to bed after being on-the-go all day, and thinking of all the “to-do’s, don’t forgets, I should have said/done that differently”.

The key to overcoming stress and moving out of a chronic sympathetic (survival) state, is to start becoming aware of your thoughts. When you change your thoughts, this changes your state and how you feel. If you want to learn more, sign up for my program Already Enough.