There is a system in our body that increases heart rate and blood pressure, spikes our blood sugar, slows down our immune system and digestion, causes tight muscles and an imbalanced emotional state. Doesn’t sound good, right? However, while this system can kill you over time, it can save your life in an instant. More on that in a bit.
Let’s discuss emotions and intelligence. Most people likely view emotion and intelligence as two completely difference entities. This isn’t entirely true. They have a lot in common, but one important distinction is that emotions are a lot faster than intelligence. We react must quicker emotionally than we do rationally and therefore our emotions can actually influence our cognition. While our conscious mind can directly influence our attitude, our emotions are more subconsciously controlled. That’s why you can’t tell yourself, “Don’t be afraid” and not feel fear. Fear is a brain stem and survival based feeling, therefore it can’t afford to listen to reason because reason is much too slow. Think about it, fear’s job in life is to spot a tiger about to pounce. It can’t afford to waste time thinking about whether or not the tiger is dangerous. That’s how fear and other related emotions can bypass the rational mind. Because your life may depend on it. An important thing to remember is that ignoring fear does not produce courage, it creates ignorance. An unchecked fear response will interfere with comprehension, focus, how you treat others and your natural healing response. In order to prevent this biological pattern you must face the source of fear, which isn’t the thing you’re afraid of but your sympathetic nervous system.
Within you lies an autonomic nervous system, which exists for the sole purpose of survival. This system has two modes, which are the parasympathetic nervous system and the aforementioned sympathetic nervous system. You switch between these two modes based on perceived need. The sympathetic mode is your emergency response system or your “flight of fight” response. It exists to alter your physiology in such a way to make your more suited for running or fighting, which is to say it activates your adrenal gland, increases heart rate and blood pressure, shunts blood away from your digestive track and frontal lobe (rational brain) to your extremity muscles and the part of your brain responsible for emotions and instincts. It also, slows down your healing, immune system and digestion because those things aren’t vital when you’re running from a bear. On the other hand, your parasympathetic nervous system governs your ability to rest, digest food, absorb nutrients, heal, fight off infection or disease, think clearly and rationally, and reproduce.
Why heart rate variability matters
Your sympathetic nervous system signals your heart to beat in a steady, metronome-like manner. This produces a low variability score. When you’re not in your stress response your heart rate fluctuates naturally which produces high variability between heart beats. This is incredibly useful information. Chronic sympathetic dominance leads to a myriad of health issues that currently plague our society. Feel free to contact me to find out how to get your heart rate variability measured and learn how to stay in a state of rest and healing.
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