What does relaxation mean?

Your body functions in certain ways which indicate whether it is relaxed or not.

This is operated through our nervous system.

The two main nervous systems that relate to us feeling relaxed or stressed are the Parasympathetic Nervous System and the Sympathetic Nervous System.

The Nervous Systems

The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is responsible for the

CALM RESPONSE.

The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is responsible for the

STRESS RESPONSE.

When our calm response is active our body is in a state of BALANCE.

For instance, our body is

  • Digesting food
  • Our heart rate is slow and steady
  • Our body burns body fat for fuel

Being in this state of balance regularly, helps us be HEALTHY and HAPPY. When our stress response is active our body is OUT OF BALANCE.

For instance, our body

  • Stops functioning areas of our body
  • The digestive system is put on hold
  • Our heart rate accelerates
  • Our pupils are dilated
  • Our body pumps as much adrenaline as possible into our muscles for strength to fight or run
  • Our body uses glucose for fuel instead of body fat

The purpose of the stress response is survival.

It is particularly useful in situations when our life is in immediate danger of death, such as being attacked by a bear.

Our body responds by making us stronger to fight or run.

For most people the threat of life and death is not a regular issue, however the stress response is being activated more than ever in this modern age.

Even though people are not in immediate danger, the body is still responding the same way to issues that a person may get emotionally worked up about such as an email.

Many people get stressed out over several issues daily and therefore be in the stress response state regularly.

The consequence of being in the stress response regularly is that the body hardly has a chance to function in a balanced state.

This can lead to health complications and the manifestation of sicknesses.

Imagine the impact on your body when the digestive system is put on hold constantly due to stress. For instance, this may lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The true sense of relaxation is when your calm response is activated, and your body is in a state of balance.

Therefore, if you are getting a massage, which is usually an activity of relaxation, but your mind is thinking about all the things you have to do that day, which is then activating your stress response, then you are not achieving relaxation.