About the connection of chronic illnesses and inflammations with the incorrect performance of the autonomous nervous system
For the proper functioning of the immune system, it will be increasingly important to know the condition we are in and know the approach and method that can explain the chronic activation of a particular condition and enable its detection and gradual change into the correct one.
It is important to recognize how our autonomous nervous system (ANS) is functioning (sympathetic or parasympathetic) and can feel and estimate if the current way is necessary for this situation. The biggest damage to us is caused by ANS when it reacts inappropriately to our current situation, and we don’t even know it.
If our system is appropriately developed, our sympathetic system is active only when we are awake, alert due to danger, or when we are partaking in physical activity outside our comfort zone:
- It prepares us to detect better, understand, and survive dangers and threats.
- Moves blood from our digestive system into our skeletal muscles, which allows faster movement. Prolonged chronic activation, however, leads to permanently elevated uncontrolled muscle tone and gastrointestinal problems.
- Redirects the blood from the capillary veins and the skin (makes it look pale and cold, to prepare for potential injury. Prolonged activation, however, leads to problems with body temperature regulation.
- It causes pupil dilation, enlargement of eyelids, and focus of senses. Prolonged activation brings oversensitivity and incorrect perception (sight issues, hearing problems, taste, and smell).
- Sympathetic nerves begin to act upon strong emotional excitation: fear, anger, excitement, love, or when we have to suppress these feelings…
- It causes change inside our body, which increases energy production and its usage. Prolonged activation causes chronic fatigue.
Activation of the sympathetic mode results in increased immune system activity for better protection against wound infections and injuries. When activated for too long, the immune system’s functioning decreases and loses its accuracy, which in the long run, leads to an increased likelihood of autoimmune diseases and allergies. This is especially important in a pandemic, which increases the immune system’s overreaction, which is killing the patient.
With the long-activated sympathetic mode of operation of the ANS, the system becomes sympathetic. Longer periods of chronic stress, for which we still have enough life energy not to go into a deregulated frozen state of the ANS or parasympathetic dominance as the final phase of the system, lead to sympathetic dominance.
This is most common with ambitious people, athletes, and people who don’t have enough time in their day. In this state, tense muscles constrict the blood vessels, which thicken, narrowing the inner diameter and reducing blood flow. Large amounts of blood thus flow through the narrow vascular system, which in turn leads to an increase in blood pressure (according to some, this may be a major risk factor for complications of COVID-19 infection).
This also happens when there isn’t any sign of direct stress – but there was in the past. Suppression of appetite is very common, and you have most likely experienced it when you have forgotten to eat while working on a stressful project. The loss of libido and erectile dysfunction and problems with arousal are also signs of sympathetic dominance.
Prolonged periods of this condition lead to lower testosterone and lower estrogen levels, which negatively affect living systems’ functioning. Proper levels of both hormones allow for proper antioxidant function and reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease arteriosclerosis.
Due to the abundance of food, a seemingly endless supply of glucose also occurs due to constantly elevated cortisol. This develops the body’s abdominal shape and excessive amounts of belly fat in men and the buttocks and thighs in women. These individuals have a strong, almost dependent need for cardio and calorie burning due to over-mobilized energy.
The parasympathetic system helps us rest, slows, and shuts down the sympathetic system. It helps us relax, reorganize, and heal after the threat or danger disappears.
- It relaxes muscle tension.
- It lowers the heart rate and blood pressure.
- It restores digestion.
- Makes breathing slower and deeper.
- Returns blood to the surface of the skin (makes skin warm and gives it color).
- Allows the immune system to begin functioning correctly again.
- It excretes body fluids.
Wild animals and humans with low chronic rigidity allow the parasympathetic system to perform its function and thus readies the system for the next threat and raises the possibility of survival. Humans are equipped with the same biological restart option, but we rarely let the process end due to haste. Because we no longer need the parasympathetic mode of operation in the modern world, where the main ability is to manage time effectively, it slowly begins to disturb and stop us. We eventually lose the wish to relax, especially because of a lack of body consciousness and understanding of how ANS works, and the belief that we cannot influence its operation.
Modern man is even avoiding the parasympathetic system, or he turns it off by ignoring it. And thus, the key part to the regeneration cycle (Sympathetic > Parasympathetic > Homeostasis = max. readiness for survival) remains unfinished, after which the body more and more often and longer remains in a state of chronically excessive arousal sympathetically.
The modern way of life and the abundance of available energy increase the sympathetic and shorten the time of activity and the intensity of the parasympathetic mode. With such a way of life, which is enabled and demanded by the modern world, we have a strong negative impact on our well-being. We create negative stress and noticeably lower the quality of our life. This is also why the sudden stop of our way of life due to the pandemic threw us into a panic.
In certain countries, our government has to use repressive measures to tell them what is good for their well-being. It is partly due to the chronically activated sympathetic condition, which leads a person in quarantine to a state of anxiety and irrational behavior.
A huge selection of options for progress and plenty of energy rewards people with a strongly activated sympathetic nervous system. They are more efficient, bolder, more successful, and adored for some time because of it. As a result, modern technology and medicine help us overcome fatigue more and more successfully without the ANS switching to a parasympathetic mode of operation.
We are losing our sense of the present, and we are increasingly tense and under pressure from lack of time. Precisely due to the loss of ability and awareness of the importance of muscle lengthening, these are under increasing tone, leading to a more and more activated sympathetic mode and less and less activated parasympathetic mode.
The first leads to contraction, the second into expansion. The first feel uncomfortable while the second is comfortable and enjoyable.
A deregulated nervous system (traumatic shock/freeze reflex)
With long-term and strong activation of the sympathetic mode, which is possible only with an abundance of food and energy, strong congestion, and loss of the body’s influence on consciousness, the parasympathetic mode is simultaneously activated. This ANS reaction has the function of an emergency braking mechanism that drastically slows down all bodily processes and should not be equated with the parasympathetic state’s natural activation as the opposite of the sympathetic state.
It leads to the freeze reflex, fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, and causes complex syndromes such as chronic fatigue, widespread fibromyalgia, chronic pain in muscles and soft tissue in the body, and disorders of the digestive system…
Deregulated ANS is similar to a car driven with the brake and gas pedal pushed to the floor. It is characteristic of a deregulated ANS that its functions no longer follow normal patterns but act unexpectedly and abnormally.
The nervous system reacts without any creativity and acts with patterns it already knows, despite these not being the best choice in the current situation. Such reactions are common in panic and horror states and lead to a traumatic shock and freeze reflex.
Deregulated ANS is very common in today’s society and is the main cause of many issues and illnesses. Among them are insomnia, sleep apnea, arrhythmia, oversensitivity to temperature changes, a distorted sense of hunger and thirst, allergies, chemical, and other addictions, ADHD, dementia in autoimmune diseases.
Because traumatic shock affects the muscles around the pelvis the most, it is among the main causes of a range of problems related to overstretched muscles in this part of the body. These include impotence, incontinence, ankylosing spondylitis (a chronic rheumatic disease characterized by spinal cord injury), chronic pelvic pain, problems with pregnancy, and an increased likelihood of complicated childbirth.
The general deterioration in the quality of life, which occurs with ANS’s deregulation, leads to depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, loss of creativity, and anxiety (anxiety, discomfort, fear-like emotional state).
Based on the strong negative influence of deregulated ANS, it’s important to know how to recognize it in ourselves or others.
The body’s response to traumatic shock leads to constriction of the blood vessels so that we bleed less in body wounds; also, less blood enters the brain. The adrenal gland releases cortisol, which gives us greater amounts of glucose needed to fight or flee.
The vagus nerve, which runs directly from the brain to the vast majority of internal organs, gives us a sense of calm and security, withdraws and shuts off its calming activity. As a result, the heartbeat speeds up, and the blood pressure level rises. We may also lose consciousness or lose control of the bladder.
The vagus nerve also disables the facial muscles’ function, leading to frequent misinterpretations of facial expression. In a state of traumatic shock, we so often assess the expression on people’s faces around us as violent and dangerous. We can also freeze, we can’t run away, or we can fight. The arms and legs become colder, moving harder, more inefficient, and rigid.
As we could expect, the emotional responses from a person in a traumatic shock are filled with fear and anxiety. Even shame, if they are afraid of failing in front of others.
People with a lot of experience and the habit of traumatic shock usually suffer from prior anxiety; they imagine the worst-case scenario for an event that has not happened. They feel high levels of threats – not only after they have done some work, but even before they have even started work.
These people become scared and anxious; they begin to believe rumors. They are easily affected by the information vacuum. They expect a bad outcome and feel strong anticipation of failure and shame.
Preliminary anxiety leads to strong, toxic, and chronic stress; one of the most harmful states for a person’s health.
Given that the ANS resides in the limbic part of the nervous system, it should be noted that the cortex and the limbic part of the brain create an almost identical relationship with each other as the relationship between the sympathetic and parasympathetic modes of operation of the ANS.
Comparing the relationship between the conscious part of the mind and the limbic part of the brains will help you better understand the functioning of the whole:
Imagine two elephant riders (Mahout), riding. A mahout represents the conscious part of the mind, while the elephant represents the nervous system’s limbic part. During a long walk, the elephant obeys all of the mahout’s commands, which commands it when to walk, when to run, when to turn, and when to stop.
At first glance, it seems as if the mahout has complete control over the elephant. But actually, it only seems so, and the mahout has control over the elephant only because the elephant allows it. If the elephant gets spooked by something and reacts spontaneously, you will witness its indomitability and panic and the mahout’s helplessness, which cannot affect the elephant’s reaction. And this state lasts until the elephant realizes that it’s not in danger anymore.
Despite our consciousness being rational, it’s no match to our primitive needs and survival instincts, especially when due to modern life’s demands and possibilities, there is a strong separation between consciousness and mind and unrealistic decisions, immature behavior, and lower flexibility.
By learning the AEQ method and improving the ability to expand your muscles, you will realize that you can influence the functioning of the ANS and that you can influence a part of the ANS’s parasympathetic functioning.
To improve the condition, it is essential to reduce the activation of the sympathetic mode of action if it is activated for a long time due to emotional trauma in the past. Such a condition creates strong pressure in the abdominal cavity due to repressed emotions, which, due to the action/reaction, causes the body armor’s activation to enable and manage this suppression. However, both lead to the sympathetic mode’s activation and the freezing reflex of the center in traumatic shock, with all the problems it brings.
Properly and carefully performed AEQ exercises reduce the proportion of tense muscles and their tone, which is a basic condition for the gradual elimination of unnecessarily activated sympathetic mode of operation of the ANS.
Through exercises, we learn to direct thoughts and attention. Thus, through dynamic meditation, we increase the vagus’ activity and enable calming and gradual normalization of the ANS’s functioning.
We increase a sense of the current situation and the ability to describe it with words. In this way, we can consciously better determine the causes of such a situation. It is easier to find creative solutions to the way out and the necessary changes that enable us to regulate the ANS’s functioning and raise the quality of life.