Your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) has two halves: The Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.

The stresses in your life all tax the Sympathetic or are what we call Sympathetic Inputs.

  • Work
  • Family
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Training
  • Dieting
  • Lack of Sleep

Yes, training is fun and working out is what a lot of people do to “de-stress” but it is still a stress to the body that has to be recovered from.

Everything we do to “relax” would then be considered a Parasympathetic Input.

  • Sleep
  • Relaxing in the sun
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Breathing exercises
  • Watching a movie or your favorite TV show
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Taking a bath

Your ANS is like your bank account. You make deposits into it with your Parasympathetic Inputs and you make withdraws from it with your Sympathetic Inputs. It’s when your withdraws become more than your deposits that things start to go south… just like your account balance.

  • Running out of the gym without cooling down
  • Yo Yo dieting and extreme calorie deficits
  • Getting under 6 hours of sleep each night
  • Overtraining
  • Constantly stressing over work and life obligations

So then what happens if you’re withdrawing more than you’re depositing!? Well… just like how you can’t buy anything if you’re overdrawn, you definitely aren’t going to be making progress if your ANS is out of balance. And if your withdraws are so much more than your deposits you’re more than likely going to drive yourself into HPA Axis Dysfunction.

How does all this work!?!? Well, I want you to think about all those massages you get, those trips to the Chiropractor you take, those minutes relaxing in the sun, going out on date night, seeing a movie with friends… those things you do to “unwind” at the end of the day (and no you can’t use alcohol). Are those things TWICE as much as you work, train, stress, worry, shuttle the kids everywhere, schedule this that and the other event and never stop to eat or sleep!?

If the answer to that question was NO… guess what!? Your ANS is out of balance because your Sympathetic Inputs far outweigh your Parasympathetic Inputs.

That massage you get every other week could be the most relaxing 90 minutes of your life… but you’re only doing it every other week! Do you really think you’re still reaping the benefits of that relaxation 7 days later, let alone 14!? Adding parasympathetic inputs into your daily life will help you bring those inputs up while at the same time bringing the sympathetic inputs down too.

My coaches have tasked me with working towards rebalancing my inputs as I continue healing from HPA Axis Dysfunction and I challenge you to do the same! Calm your schedule down and force it to include more Parasympathetic Inputs. Recovery matters!