There are 3 primary states of the autonomic nervous system.
Learning about these states in regards to yourself + others can truly TRANSFORM your understanding of what it is to be human.
Our nervous system STATE informs us moment by moment of what is “true” about the world inside of us + around us.
The 1st nervous system state we’ll talk about is SYMPATHETIC activation.
This is what is often referred to as “fight or flight”. Or more accurately, “fight, flight, freeze or fawn”.
In this place everything feels urgent, intense or troubling.
It may be hard to take a deep, steady breath, + actions often feel pressured.
Thoughts can be scattered or panicking….as well as incessant or pushy.
It is an autonomic (meaning involuntary) defensive state of the body, and in this state, people + surroundings are much more easily interpreted as threat.
In the state of sympathetic activation the body is hyper-ALERTED.
You may feel a tightness in your chest and that your breathing has become restricted. Some have described it as an internal buzzing or live-wire effect. Your body may be jittery on the outside even and you may find it hard to sit still. In this state a lot of survival energy is flowing and longs for expression.
Getting stuck in a sympathetic state is like a turbo gas pedal of a car, that gets pushed continuously, as opposed to just when it’s really needed.
Like all the states, this isn’t a “bad” state, it is necessary and useful when it is needed. The challenge is when this state is activated chronically, leading to long-term anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, hypervigilance, chronic pain and illness among other manifestations of a body stuck in this survival state.
Stay tuned for our next post about the state of shut-down.