We all experience either of these two states on a daily basis: "Fight or Flight", or "Rest and Digest". These two statesbegin with our Sympathetic Nervous System.
The “Fight or Flight” reaction prepares our body for action. The internal body begins to change (i.e. restricting the flow of blood and oxygen). And the physical body is preparing to retreat (i.e.contracting or tensing up). This type of reaction to a situation or experience is activated through this system. Although this primal reaction is sometimes necessary, this can easily become a habitual way to react to stressful situations that potentially rise throughout the day.
The “Rest and Digest” system is a much slower system that moves along longer, somatic pathways. The Parasympathetic response is responsible for controlling homeostasis, or the balance and maintenance of the body’s systems. It restores the body to a state of calm and counterbalance, thus, allowing it to relax and repair. The body wants to naturally restore its own equilibrium, and it can, but only with your conscious effort to stay calm and grounded when faced with stressful moments. This begins with RESPONDING instead of REACTING to life.
How to Practice RESPONDING Rather Than REACTING:
First and foremost, take a deep cycle of breath in and out; inviting a circulation of blood flow and oxygen into your body. Then, take a moment to step back and remove yourself, temporarily, from the situation. Ask yourself: "How can I respond mindfully?" Or, "Is this worth getting worked up about?" As you take a step back, you often discover that an emotional or physical reaction may not be necessary for the situation or for the health of your nervous system.
Take the time to pause, breathe, and ask yourself: "Can I respond from a place of calm and collectedness when navigating through my day?