How stress recovery works
The two parts of the autonomous nervous system
A basic human physiology lesson can help in understanding more about how stress recovery is achieved. The human body has two parts to the autonomic nervous system of the brain. These work together to make sure we respond appropriately to different stimuli. The two systems are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
The nervous system regulates our physiological state
The body’s heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) are controlled by these two parts of the nervous system of the body. Essentially, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for releasing certain hormones that serve to speed up the heart rate. The parasympathetic nervous system releases different hormones that slow the heart rate down. What you do has a very big influence over this. For example, stress and also stimulants such as caffeine will speed the heart rate up, and in turn, meditating will slow it down. The sympathetic nervous system is that which produces the “fight or flight” response when we face danger, helping us to know when to back off.
Avoiding the acceleration trap
When we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is working in overtime. Stress recovery balance helps us to let the sympathetic nervous system rest for a while, and encourages the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. Without this occurring we may burn out and it becomes hard for the body to switch to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Exercise has the impact of accelerating your heart rate, and this continues for the duration of the exercise. While over the longer term regular cardio exercise will lower your resting heart rate, in the short term it will increase activity from the sympathetic nervous system, and this is why although exercise may feel good for relieving stress, and letting off steam in the gym may seem to solve some problems, it will not aid your body with its stress recovery process. For that, you need to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which requires doing different activities altogether – which we cover in another post.
A first step to optimise your recovery
Our tool can analyse your body’s physiological reactions to see if you are getting sufficient recovery balance in your life. Contact us to find out how.