Stress- The sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems

Physical stress and lifestyle stress are the same thing to your body.

Whether it’s running a marathon or your boss yelling at you, your body will have the same physiological response. That response is to release stress hormones into your body to try and relax you. When stress hormones are constantly being released in your body it can create major dysfunction with all of your other hormones that allow you to sleep, stay focused, build muscle and most importantly… lose fat.

This stressed state is called your sympathetic nervous system, aka fight, flight or freeze. The opposite of this, and the nervous system we want to drive is called the para-sympathetic nervous system aka, rest and digest.

To get your body into a para-sympathetic state, there are a few simple things that you can do. These include walking, stretching, foam rolling, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, earthing and being in sunlight.

Always aim for at least a 1:1 ratio of sympathetic to para-sympathetic. For example, if you workout at the gym for 5 hours a week, do at least 5 hours a week of meditation and yoga. Which means you need to do about 10 minutes of meditation a day, 20 minutes of being in sunlight and 20 minutes of walking a day.

This will allow your body to recover more efficiently which will let you burn more fat, build more muscle, digest food properly, stay more focused and get better sleep.

Sleep is the most important thing that your body needs to recover. We don’t build muscle and burn fat in the gym, we build muscle and burn fat whilst we are sleeping. If you find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, if you snore or you don’t wake up with energy. The first thing you should do is focus on improving your sleep. There are 3 things to consider when it comes to sleep. The duration, consistency and quality. Now if you work night shifts or have kids and can’t get the quality or consistency, then focus on doing at least 2 of these things. For duration aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, for consistency aim to have the same sleep and wake times, and for good quality sleep you need to stay asleep throughout the night. If you can optimise your sleep, then you will burn fat and build muscle at a much higher rate.

So, the less stressed you are… The better sleep you get…. And the better mood you will be in… so you will be less stressed you’ll be… putting you in the para-sympathetic nervous system, which will allow you to work harder burn more fat and build more muscle.

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Thanks for reading!

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