Even though we are all becoming more aware of how we can influence our health, surprisingly the problem of illness remains and is even increasing along with the demands of modern life. This is because we live our lives in sympathetic wind up – stressed out, tired, and chronically in a state of “Fight or Flight”.
Fight or Flight vs Rest & Digest
You may have heard the term ‘autonomic nervous system’ which is the part of your nervous system that regulates bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, sneezing/coughing, etc. – all those things that occur without you even having to think about them!
This autonomic nervous system is broken out into two parts – the sympathetic component and the parasympathetic component. Your sympathetic nervous system is the one that prepares you to “fight” or to run from a threat (for example, a lion chasing you) and your parasympathetic nervous system allows your body to rest, digest food, reproduce and repair/regenerate.
What is sympathetic dominance?
The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work simultaneously, however as one increases function the other is inhibited. If you are sympathetically dominant it means your parasympathetic nervous system is suppressed, so if you really are being chased by a lion or in another stressful situation, your stomach will not start digesting that banana you just ate and you’ll probably be too wired to settle down for an afternoon siesta!
Are you suffering from sympathetic dominance?
- Perhaps your highly stressful job often sees you working to very tight deadlines?
- Are you in a strained relationship where you argue or fight often?
- Do you find yourself worrying about your financial situation?
- Have you recently experienced the trauma of losing a loved one?
There are many different events that activate the “fight or flight” response and by constantly subjecting your body to these stressors your sympathetic nervous system can remain highly active even after the “threat” has passed, leading to symptoms such as:
- Digestive issues (diarrhoea, constipation, IBS, bloating, etc.)
- Difficulty losing weight
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Water retention
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Hair loss
- Light sleep and vivid dreams
- Anxiety or Depression
- High blood pressure
- Feeling cold
- Sugar of salt cravings
- Thyroid imbalances
- Uterine Fibroids
- Gall bladder problems
- Hormonal imbalances, including oestrogen dominance
What can you do to find a better balance?
The whole body is in fact contiguous – what happens in one system of the body will have a flow on effect in other systems. In order to maintain good health, a balanced health triangle is required between your structural health, your emotional/mental health and your chemical health.
If you’re exhibiting a number of symptoms that indicate your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, there are a number of strategies you could implement to help calm the body and find a better balance, such as:
Dampening light input
- Block out blinds/curtains in bedrooms
- Dimmer lights
- Avoid backlit reading devices
- Change computer monitors to red-based screens (e.g. install the f.lux program)
- Wear glasses with red lenses (indoors)
- Wear good quality polarising sunglasses (outdoors)
Dampening sound input
- Wear ear plugs in noisy environments
- Turn the TV off when you’re not watching it, or wear headphones
Chiropractic adjustments and posture correction
- Get assessed by a Chiropractor
- Be adjusted if necessary
- Learn what lifestyle changes or exercises you need to do in order to positively influence your posture.
Leaky gut intervention
- Get assessed by a Naturopath if you are experiencing any gut symptoms
- IgG test if necessary to determine any food intolerances or sensitivities so that adjustments can be made to your diet in order for your gut to heal.
Your Naturopath may also suggest supplements if necessary, such as:
- Magnesium – helps with feelings of tiredness, muscle cramps, nerve twitching, restless legs, weight gain, etc.
- Withania – promotes and supports healthy adrenal gland function, whether it be high or low.
- Progesterone cream – to balance out oestrogen
- Gut healing – supplements such as Gut Relief (Nutrition Care) or Intestimine (Bioceuticals), and bone broth.
- Lactose free, high quality probiotics
- Slow the brain down in order to restore your system to rest and digest, reproduce and repair.
- Smiling Minds (link to) is a good app with over 200 different meditations.
- Determine the ‘triggers’ for on-going sympathetic wind up and make changes where possible to alleviate, or at least reduce, those situations.
Want to know how we can help?
At Brighton Wellness Group we take a collaborative approach to helping you achieve better health naturally. If you’re suffering from sympathetic dominance, our team of expert practitioners can develop a tailored treatment plan especially for you as well as guide and support you to make appropriate diet and lifestyle changes. To get started, book your initial consultation with a Chiropractor today by calling 03 9596 9930.