These are great times to have the increased blood flow to our muscles for more energy production and expenditure, heightened visual and auditory acuity, quicker reflexes, and the release of stored glucose into the blood. It is a truly beautiful system to protect us and power us in a time of need.
In a more day-in, day-out function, our sympathetic nervous system controls our blood pressure by constricting and dilating certain blood vessels to make sure we don’t lose blood flow to our brains when changing positions. If you, or someone you know, gets dizzy going from sitting to standing or changing positions, this can be a common indicator of sympathetic tone issues.
The sympathetic tone, in coordination with parasympathetic tone, helps control urinary continence and release (brings a whole new meaning of getting the pee scared out of you. Most concerning, our brains do not like living in a fight or flight mode. In that mode we limit our ability to make neurotransmitters for mood and happiness, we limit the energy and nutrients being delivered to the parts of our brain for higher functions like memory and communication. Have you ever snapped on a loved one after a rough, stressful day? You might blame the sympathetic response for your short fuse.
The biggest issue with this whole system is it can respond to any stressful stimulus. Instead of a grizzly bear crashing through the door and your muscles needing that extra sugar to power you for a fast sprint to safety, we have the guy who cut you off on the highway, the boss putting pressure on to get a project completed, and bills that you may or may not have the money for.
What happens now to that spike in blood sugar, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, decrease in gut movement and function? Well, it can lead to blood tests showing increased glucose and inflammatory markers, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rates. From a personal point of view, it can lead to fatigue, reliance on coffee or stimulants to stay alert, increased belly fat, and poor skin, nail and hair health. Not to mention all the gut problems we talked about in the previous article. Often times our modern day stressors are not immediate or short lived stress, but long-term spanning days, weeks, or months.
What happens when our body becomes chronically stressed? Plasticity takes over. Last month we talked about plasticity being the adaptive ability of the brain to become more efficient and faster at certain tasks. If you live a life full of stress for a long period of time then your brain plastically changes to be in that mode all the time.
If you need help with these issues, now is the time to do it because the longer you live with ramped up sympathetics, the harder it is to get back to balance. If you need extra help, it is always available at my office but take time to meditate, relax, be with loved ones, and exercise. The majority of the time, work can wait until tomorrow. Now would be a good time for a relaxing retreat and I know just the right people!
About the Author
Dr. Brandon Nutt holds a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy as well as a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness. Dr. Nutt represented his graduating class at Parker University, College of Chiropractic as Class President and was honored with various Leadership and Service awards. His true passion lies in helping patients with chronic, metabolic, and neurological issues. Dr. Nutt has been a leader and mentor throughout his life, and continues today with his patients, promoting healthy lifestyles, diets, and exercises. Dr. Nutt’s goals include further education and specialized degrees in Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine so he can utilize that information in the service of his patients.
About the Wellness Institute of Dallas
The Wellness Institute of Dallas strives to deliver individualized patient care, emphasizing the importance of educating and empowering our patients. Patients deserve focused care and we offer individualized approaches in chiropractic care, rehabilitative therapy and nutritional mentoring. The Wellness Institute of Dallas believes that each individual given the right approach, systems and mentoring can improve their physiology to maximize their health.