Relaxation 101 – How To Activate The Parasympathetic Nervous System

Understanding the science of how the nervous system works is not only a fascinating area of study but it can be greatly beneficial to increasing your ability to consciously relax at will. If you can relax more easily at will, then think of all the trickle down benefits that this ability will have within all areas of your life. You'll be more happy, productive, easier to get along with, and more peaceful!

Sounds like a good deal.

Therefore, researching and understanding how the nervous system functions is something that's worthwhile to anyone who wants to have more control over their internal state, and who wants to be able to manage the inevitable stressors that happen in day to day life, with more calm, confidence, and certainty.

A Basic Understanding Of The Autonomic Nervous System

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is basically the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary processes. These are the processes (such as your heart rate) that you cannot directly control [1], although as we'll see, indirect manipulation is possible once you know how. That's largely what this article is about.

As you may already be aware, there are two basic modes related to how the autonomic nervous system works, these being the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).

human-nervous-systemOnly one of these systems can be activated at a given time, and so knowing this, one can use this to his or her advantage. It's possible to learn how to take more control over your autonomic nervous system and therefore stay in PNS mode more of the time, which will improve your life in a multitude of ways.

In some ways this is nothing new, for example in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, both of which span back thousands of years, people have been using certain techniques of meditation to train themselves to keep their nervous systems more in the Parasympathetic mode than the Sympathetic.

Practitioners within these traditions just had other concepts or ways of explaining the same ideas, but in terms of the western scientific paradigm, this is exactly what they were doing when they practiced sitting down on the mat, bringing awareness to their breath, and become the objective observer of their mind.

It's probably no surprise for you to hear that the activation of the sympathetic nervous system is something that happens a lot in response to just living in the modern world. Because of this fact, it's important to learn how to switch off this over active SNS response, and take control over our biology with practiced effort.

Sympathetic Nervous System Activation (SNS)

Since this is something that's pretty common for us to experience living in this world, you are probably no stranger to what it feels like to be in a state of sympathetic nervous system activation.

The purpose of this part of the autonomic nervous system is all about survival, and when in this state, we experience some or all of the following temporary physiological changes to our body [2]:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilation of bronchial tubes
  • Contraction of muscles (especially in the arms, legs, hands, and feet, to mobilize for fighting or fleeing)
  • Pupils dilate
  • Decrease in stomach movement and secretion
  • Decreased saliva production
  • Adrenaline release
  • Increase in glycogen to glucose conversion
  • Urination decreased in output

SNS-activation-physiology

Now all of this is fine for a short period of time during a time of stress in life. The problem is that with our modern lifestyle, the SNS wing of the nervous system is activated chronically due to many different psychological stressors that the average adult human (at least in western culture) deals with on a regular basis.

These modern stressors are not only much greater in number and variation than what we evolved to cope with, but they are never ending! Stressors such as monthly mortgage payments, a high-stress job or a cranky demanding boss, and the constant bombardment of hugely negative world news are just a  few that come to mind.

That's not to mention physical stressors on our body which also have the ability to create additional overall stress. This would include the increased toxicity of our environment, any number of different types of infections, bombardment with electromagnetic pollution from all of our technological devices, and many more.

The Health Risks of Chronic Over-Activation Of The SNS

It's been said that 75% to 90% of all Doctor's visits are related to stress-induced illness [3]. In other words, the health problems and risks associated with the over-activation of the SNS are a real danger.

Without going into this area too much, as you could basically relate a lack of stress management to pretty much any health problem, here's a few of the commonly associated health risks of NOT learning to switch off the often over active sympathetic nervous system:

  • Cardiovascular problems including hardening of the arteries and heart attacks
  • Gastrointestinal issues of all sorts including IBS, chronic diarrhea, constipation, etc
  • Immune system weakening
  • Endocrine system issues like type 2 diabetes, sexual impotence, decreased longevity
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) Activation 

As we've touched upon, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (or PNS) is 1 of 2 main divisions within the overall autonomic nervous system (ANS). Its main purpose within the ANS is to control homeostasis and manage the “rest and digest” response. Parasympathetic nervous system activation is our bodies naturally evolved system for switching off the “threat response” that is related to the sympathetic nervous system and it's activation.

Although many of us in today's modern world of high stressors are not in PNS mode nearly as much as we would like to be, we do naturally move in and out of this state many times throughout each day.

So before we move on to the good stuff (how to activate this side of our ANS), for those who would still like to understand a bit more about the anatomy of this specific part of our central nervous system, here's a good video you can watch before moving on:



So for those of us who want to be happier, more at peace, more productive and just enjoy life to a greater degree, learning how to CONSCIOUSLY MOVE INTO THIS STATE OF PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM ACTIVATION, more and more throughout the day is the ultimate challenge and goal.

Luckily, by using our awareness that this state exists, and learning the mechanics behind it and what switches it on or off (like you are doing now by reading this), this is an achievable goal to work towards.

An Overview Of The Health Benefits Associated With PNS Activation

Looked at in simplistic terms, all of the potential harm that's done when we're in a state of chronic SNS activation is more likely to be avoided, and this leads to greater health and improved functioning in almost all areas.

Some ways in which this manifests in terms of actual physical health improvements include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • More stable blood sugar, decreased likelihood of diabetes [4]
  • Better overall energy – SNS over activation – over time will mess up cortisol levels
  • Better sleep quality – again, chronic SNS activation will affect circadian rhythm – Also some sleep problems such as OSA can actually increase SNS activation according to one study [5, 6].

nature-parasympathetic-nervous-systemBecause the effects of long terms stress or SNS over-activation are so prevalent, and affect so many of our different bodily systems, when we focus on learning how to consciously turn off this SNS response more and more, we start to “take the pressure off” in a lot of areas of our bodies, and give the whole system a chance to recuperate and heal.

Over time, this adds up and can have a substantial impact upon our overall health. This is why even just the addition of a small amount of something like meditation or breathing practice each day, can have very positive impacts within just a few months of sustained practice.

One interesting study involving 81 cancer patients who were experiencing decreased cognitive function and quality of life showed that regular practice of a Qi Gong variant known as “medical Qi Gong” had positive impacts on cognitive function over the study period of eight months [7].

6 Natural Ways To Induce PNS Activation

Now, finally we can move onto the good stuff, the part of this information that actually empowers you to do something and get the desired changes in your stress levels, and reap all the benefits that are associated!

As we've touched upon, the exercises we're about to list below allow you to consciously stimulate the PNS, which is the part of your nervous system that is responsible for slowing down, relaxing and recuperating – and therefore reducing the stress response, and increasing positive emotional feelings.

meditation-in-nature-for-pns-activationThe parasympathetic nervous system evolved as a kind of polar opposite to the sympathetic nervous system, and evolved to allow us to relax after a threatening situation had passed (which is the evolutionary purpose of why we have the SNS – it's obviously not just there to make us feel bad for no reason).

Being human and having the amazing blessing of free will, and in the understanding of our ability to consciously switch on the PNS system, we have an amazing blessing and gift. But nonetheless, it's a gift that must be taken, as the habit for most modern humans is to live mostly in SNS overactivation and neglect our ability to have more control over this system.

The following six exercises, if practiced regularly can allow you to become much more in control of your own stress levels, and reap all the amazing emotional, physical and mental health benefits that come along with being in the mode of parasympathetic nervous system activation.

There are probably far more than six ways in which we can activate the PNS naturally, but the following are fairly simple, and have been tried and tested throughout the ages, not to mention there is a substantial and ever increasing amount of science being published about how these simple exercises affect our nervous system and therefore our health.

Some of these methods are pretty common sense, and you will have no doubt heard of them before. Hopefully at least a couple of them are new to you. Also, with the incredible advancements in technology in the health and “biohacking” field in the past few years, we're starting to see more and more gadget based ways to control both our state of mind and our biology. We discuss a couple of these technological short cuts to PNS activation further on down the page.

#1 – Bringing Your Attention To Physical Sensation

The more we can bring our mind and awareness into the present moment, the more we can turn off the SNS and turn on the PNS system allowing us to cool down, recharge and relax and heal the harmful effects of prolonged sympathetic nervous system activation.

feel-sensations-of-feet-now

How often do most of us tune into the simple pleasure that lies within paying attention to our senses in the present moment?

By focusing your attention in this moment with a relaxed alert attention (with a mindful state of mind). By bringing your mind to sensations of the body, which are always happening in the here and now, you can activate your PNS [9].

A couple of examples of this are:

A) Focusing your attention right now on the feeling of your feet touching the ground, or the sensation of your feet rubbing against the insides of your shoes.

B) Focusing on the feeling of saliva in your mouth, it's wetness and texture, and the warmth of your tongue as it lies naturally in its place. The tongue position is often important to certain meditation practice protocols, for example keeping the tongue touching the roof of the mouth to “allow for clear breathing and slow down the swallowing process” [10].

C) The feeling of warmth in any area of your body, for example in your torso. If you pay attention closely, you'll notice there is a sensation associated with temperature. You may even feel the movement or heat created by the internal organs in that area of the body.

#2 – Breathing Deeply

This is probably so simplistic that you may want to skip ahead, but give me a minute! The beauty of this simplicity is the amazing access you have at all times to this powerful way to enhance PNS activation.

You always have your breath, unless you're dead, so learning how to use this tool until it becomes unconscious is a very powerful skill to build into your life. So many people know this stuff, but simply fail to use disciplined action to make this a habit, including up until very recently, the person who wrote this page.

diaphramatic-breathing-for-activation-of-parasympathetic-nervous-system

So, to the technique – when you breathe in, breathe in slowly from your abdomen (yes, you'll be learning to breathe more through your diaphragm here too, and it will take some time to strengthen and feel comfortable) and then when the diaphragm starts to fill up, then allow the breath to continue so that you fill your lungs (and the upper part of your lungs) more completely.

Breathe in through your nose, and then when you have a full breath, hold for 1-2 seconds, and then allow the breath to release, breathing out this time through your mouth. The reason you breathe out through your mouth is to flush out all the stale air from your lungs. The mouth being bigger, means a faster, more complete emptying of the diaphragm and lungs.

#3 – Muscle Relaxation

By actively relaxing your muscles, using either something like a relaxation meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or any other exercise that focuses on relaxing the body, you will be automatically forcing the PNS to activate itself.

There is an interesting interchange between the parasympathetic nervous system causing you to become relaxed, and then you willfully turning it on (and therefore increasing your ability to be relaxed) via indirect methods such as muscle relaxation.

This is also why having a hot bath is a great way to stimulate the PNS, as the muscles become warm, they relax, and thus the SNS turns off, while the PNS gets switched on. According to Rick Hansen Ph D. “relaxed muscles send
messages to the alarm centers in the brain that nothing is alerting the body to a threat” [9].

There are many great free resources online which you can either view online or download to your computer in order to practice this skill.

Here are a couple of good free resources for your convenience:

  1. Free progressive muscle relaxation script PDF (sourced from the University of Texas)
  2. Free progressive muscle relaxation audio MP3s (sourced from Western Sydney University)

#4 – Equal Timed Breathing + Positive Emotion

This is another breathing technique which helps to activate the parasympathetic wing of the nervous system. By counting your inhale to say 5 seconds (using the guidelines in exercise #1 to make it even more effective) and then matching that to the timing of your exhale count (so 5 seconds in this example) you help to turn on the PNS.

At the same time as you are doing this, focus your attention on the centre area of your chest (known by some traditions as the heart chakra) and try to imagine someone who is dear to you, could be anyone from a beloved pet, to a family member, to a spiritual figure who you've never even met in real life before.

The goal is to breathe in this way, at the same time as generating feelings of good will, love, peace or gratitude.

This practice has been shown to increase a biomarker known as heart rate variability [8], which has been studied increasingly in the past few years, with one of the leading organisations in this field of study being The Heartmath Foundation.

#5 – Regular Meditation Practice

Although we've already discussed breathing techniques twice already above, it should be pointed out that basically any time of meditation which induces relaxation (most of them do) will activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Even just practicing for a small amount of time per day can reap big benefits when it comes to meditation. The noticeable benefits also tend to be cumulative.

You have to wonder, if everyone did some kind of practice to increase PNS activation, like meditation, what affect would it have on the larger consciousness and the larger global situation. We can only imagine.

#6 Positive Mental Focus, Optimistic Attitude

An optimistic attitude will quite obviously make us less prone to worry, fearful mind states and therefore flight or fight responses and more SNS activation. That seems obvious, but not only that, a positive focus will increase the amount  of positive emotions in one's experience, and positive emotional arousal has been shown in various studies to be linked with the activation of the parasympathetic side of the nervous system [11].

Apart from the more detailed list above, the following practices have been associated with increased PSN activation, though much of the evidence remains mostly anecdotal at this point, some studies have been done if you are willing to do the research into each practice.

  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Qi Gong
  • Certain Martial Arts (Aikido, Ju Jitsu, Wu Wei, Hapkido, Judo)
  • Slow swimming
  • Cold Thermogenesis
  • Spa/Hot bath
  • Sauna
  • Being in nature

As this page is meant as a general overview, we haven't endeavored to research every single possible PNS activating practice and substantiate the evidence by providing related scientific data and resources.

Cool Technological “Shortcuts” To Activating Your PNS

We live in an age where short attention spans rule, and everyone wants a quick fix for everything, including personal development. This is intricately tied to the fact that we live in an “app for that” culture, where technological advances have provided solutions to almost every problem, and created useful short cuts in just about every avenue of life.

Well in the specific personal development area of relaxation, I guess for many, there is no difference. If we can use a device to make it easier, then why not? I personally don't have a problem with this, there's no point in denying the reality of our modern life and what it means to be human in this age.

Using technology to help us progress spiritually is actually a very interesting area in and of itself, and a whole book could be written about this one topic alone (in fact, I have a friend who's writing one at this very moment).

So specifically in terms of the link to PNS activation, let's look briefly into some of the technologies that directly or indirectly help us to access this state of nervous system function.

Heartmath Emwave 2

This is a device which I actually own, and have for about a year now. It's something that I set aside for the time being, as I'm currently more interested in building a solid foundation using natural methods to activate the PNS, like the ones posted above.

But don't let that give you the wrong impression, this is a very powerful and useful tool to increasing HRV (heart rate variability) which therefore is also increasing the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

emwave-2-indirectly-increases-PNS-activation

Basically, the Emwave is a device that was created by the Heartmath company, based on their years of research into the rather large ranging and varied health benefits of high heart rate variability.

Their studies have shown that possessing a higher heart rate variability is a key indicator of longevity and health, and is quite an accurate predictor on what the health status of an individual will be in the later stages of life. It can even predict and determine mental health to some degree.

The Emwave 2 is the latest version of this device (available on amazon here), and comes with a whole suite of software that is used in conjunction with the measuring capability of the device which picks up your heart rate in real time, and then uses a precise algorithm to determine your actual HRV.

(I just completed an extremely detailed review of the emWave2, read up on that if you want to know all about how both the device itself and Heart Rate Variability works, including various health related published studies that have used HRV)

With real-time display and feedback of your HRV, you then use such tools as the “Heart Coherence Technique” to learn to consciously raise your heart rate variability, and you're able to see how you're progressing with your training over time with real life feedback. You can probably get an idea of how powerful this is, especially when you do a bit of study into the health and wellness implications of increasing one's HRV scores.

Binaural Beats

If you don't know what binaural beats are, a simplistic explanation would be to think of them as beats that train your brain to go into various different states of consciousness that correlate with varying brain wave patterns. For example, the meditative state is a certain relaxed state of consciousness, and this is quite often linked with alpha brainwave patterns.

Alpha brainwave states have been linked to increased states of parasympathetic nervous system activation [12], and hence are another great “short cut” to indirectly increasing this state of being.

Alpha brainwave patterns can be induced, by listening to an audio track that “entrains” your brain to enter into an alpha brain wave pattern.

Binaural beats are not a new invention by any means, they were first discovered in 1839 by Prussian physicist and meteorologist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. I'm not going to bother explaining all the ins and outs of this technology here, Wikipedia will give you a good basic understanding here (that's what Wikipedia is good for in my opinion).

meditation-using-binaural-beats

Using binaural beats is a great example of taking advantage of technology to increase PNS activation

In terms of attaining binaural beats, you have many options. And it's even possible to use freeware to create your own. However, this is an area where I would say quality is more important than saving a few bucks, and in my experience having tried quite a good number of different binaural tracks over the years for relaxation and concentration improvements, it's worth spending a few extra bucks, as they are pretty inexpensive when it comes down to it, especially considering the powerful benefits that these tracks can provide.

The 2 recommended Binaural Beats producers that I have tried and can confidently stand behind are:

  1. Hemi-Sync
  2. Holosync (Centerpoint)

Apart from that, if you really want to get into using brainwave entrainment, and want to save yourself a lot of money over time, then a good option is to have a look at a program called Neuro-Programmer 3 (you can read my full review of this interesting software here). I also personally own this technology (it's a computer software suite) and it's a really awesome tool, which I found to be ridiculously good value for money.

Here's a quick video example from the manufacturer about how this sofware works:

Visit their site here, and if you are interested in their stuff, you can get 15% discounted, using the coupon code:

healthvibed

I would say that Neuro-Programmer 3 is a great investment if you really want to get into brain entrainment and start to reap some of the associated benefits, like deeper relaxation, increased concentration for studying, etc, etc. Again, check out my very detailed overview of the Neuro Programmer 3 software here.

In my own brainwave entrainment journey, I personally bought a few tracks first, I think firstly from Holosync, and then later I found I preferred Hemi-Sync, as I'm quite a big fan of Robert Monroe and the work he's been involved with over the years. After that I bought the NP3 Software, as I got really into the whole scene.

There will be an updated section on this website all about Binaural Beats and their many uses, as I feel it's a valuable area to learn about and add to your toolbox. By using these beats in combination with some of the natural methods above, you can increase the power of your relaxation exercises a lot, and decrease the amount of time it will take for your practice to start proving beneficial.

Some Common Questions About The ANS, SNS, And PNS

Here are some references to the content on this page, and answers to common questions that people often have about the ANS, and activation of both the SNS and PNS.

What activates the parasympathetic nervous system?

Generally speaking, awareness of the body in the present moment, meditation, deep extended diaphragmatic breathing, being in nature. See more about natural methods of PNS activation here, and some ideas on how you can use technology to speed up your practice here.

What does the parasympathetic nervous system do?

In the most basic terms, it's job is to allow our system to rest and relax, switching down gears from sympathetic nervous system activation, which if stayed in for extended periods has many negative consequences on our long-term health, as discussed more thoroughly here. Read more about the PNS and it's activation here.

What happens when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated?

We relax, become calmer and more clear and enter a more serene state of consciousness. Our body's physiology changes in many ways, and we enter the “rest and digest” mode. Read more here.

What causes autonomic nervous system dysfunction?

Stress is the main cause in most cases I would say, though unfortunately, this is purely anecdotal. But as mentioned earlier in this article, stress is responsible for 75%-90% of all visits to the Doctor. It's probably impossible to quantify exactly how many issues are stress related, and how much of the issue is created by stress, as there are often multiple factors involved when it comes to health problems.

What does the autonomic nervous system do?

The ANS is responsible for running many of our involuntary bodily functions, including heart rate, internal blood flow and temperature and more. Click here to read the full section related to this question.

Why is the autonomic nervous system important?

 

Without the ANS we simply would drop dead on the spot, so on a scale of importance I would say it's about a 10 out of 10 😀 As you can read more about here, the ANS is responsible for managing all of the bodies involuntary processes, such as the beating of our heart, etc. Read more here.

When does the parasympathetic nervous system work?

I think most experts would agree that It's hard to say if the PNS is actually ever completely turned on or off, as both branches of the ANS are constantly reaching a kind of balance, when one is more active the other is less active. But basically, if the sympathetic nervous system is not active then the parasympathetic nervous system will be, as one must be active at all times.

Maybe in the future, as technological advances are made, we'll be able to more precisely measure the activation and deactivation of both systems.

 

Maybe in the future, as technological advances are made, we'll be able to more precisely measure the activation and deactivation of both systems.

How can I calm the parasympathetic nervous system?

Technically speaking you don't need to “calm” the PNS, as the PNS in itself is a system within the nervous system that promotes calm and positive feelings. All you need to know how to do is consciously activate the parasympathetic wing of your nervous system. As I've written quite extensively about various methods that can be used to do this already, I suggest you take a look here.

How to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system naturally?

I've written a summary of quite a few methods for achieving this, please see this section.

How to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system?

See the list above 🙂

How is the parasympathetic nervous system activated?

Click here tos see the list above.

Does the autonomic nervous system control heart rate?

Yes, among other involuntary processes within the body, the ANS is responsible for the control of the heart rate.

How does the parasympathetic nervous system work?

See my basic summary of PNS function here.

What's Your Experience With SNS Over-activation and Training PNS Activation?

what-about-youThis is an area that I'm always fascinated with and am constantly on the lookout for new ways to work on increasing PNS activation. Of course some of the oldest and most fundamental methods, like simply deep breathing can provide a source of constant growth and improvement with practice too.

What's your experience been with learning how to switch off overactivation of the SNS side of your autonomic nervous system? Have you been able to successfully train your mind and your biology to give you a calmer baseline state of mind?

Please comment below, I'd love to hear your feedback, and the more ideas we have as a community the more we can all grow!

References
  1. Study.com. “Sympathetic Nervous System: Definition, Function & Effects”. View Webpage.
  2. Diffen.com. “Parasympathetic vs Sympathetic Nervous System – Difference and Comparison”. View Webpage
  3. Webmd.com. “The Effects Of Stress On Your Body”. View Webpage.
  4. Diabetes.org. “Stress” View Webpage.
  5. Narkiewicz K, Somers VK. “The sympathetic nervous system and obstructive sleep apnea: implications for hypertension 1997. View Study (PubMed).
  6. Black DS, O'Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. “Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial” 2015. View Study (PubMed).
  7. Oh B, Butow PN, Mullan BA, Clarke SJ, Beale PJ, Pavlakis N, Lee MS, Rosenthal DS, Larkey L, Vardy J.. “Effect of medical Qigong on cognitive function, quality of life, and a biomarker of inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial” 2011. View Study (PubMed).
  8. psychospiritualtools (Google Sites). “Activating the Parasympathetic Wing of Your Nervous System”. View Webpage.
  9. Rick Hanson, Ph.D.  “Relaxed and Contented: Activating the Parasympathetic Wing of Your Nervous System” 2007. View PDF.
  10. Lodro Rinzler, yogajournal.com. “Everything You Need to Know About Meditation Posture” 2015. View Webpage.
  11. Willem J. Kop, Ph.D. Stephen J. Synowski, Ph.D. Miranda E. Newell, M.S. Louis A. Schmidt, Ph.D. Shari R. Waldstein, Ph.D. and Nathan A. Fox, Ph.D. “Autonomic nervous system reactivity to positive and negative mood induction: The role of acute psychological responses and frontal electrocortical activity” 2010. View Study (PubMed).
  12. Breathing Space London. “Research into benefits of meditation on mental health”. View Webpage.
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Nick Earl

About The Author - Founder at Healthvibed.com, Nick is passionate about learning and implementing all information related to achieving optimum health.

He's since made it his mission to learn, live and share these principles, many of which you can find on this blog.

Read more of Nick's personal story here, as well as our mission here on this site, here.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Dawn - 10 months ago

As a paramedic, I had never even thought that there was research covering activating the PNS at will. This has triggered a huge interest for me, not only on this, but the rest of your website also. This article is well researched, and referenced, and is clinically correct. I will be spending some time here.
Thank you.

Reply
maria - 10 months ago

Nick this is so interesting! I am going to come back and read again. I had extreme anxiety for over 7 years so sought out some of the stress relief things you pointed out. Truly so much starts in the mind! I see you listed cold thermogenesis as one, my son and I practice that. I also have and use several times a week an infrared sauna. However, what you are teaching us about is more about neurology and how to take our thoughts captive to relax. I love what you offer and know it works!

Reply
    Nick Earl - 9 months ago

    Maria, so sorry to hear you have also suffered from anxiety. I know how challenging it can be. Have you looked into your methylation status at all? Also, you may have elevated “pyroles” you can read all about that and what it means here, and get some good direction, as it may be very helpful for you in solving the root causes of your anxiety.

    Here’s the link: My Pyroluria Story

    Reply
Walda Woods - 10 months ago

Incredible site. Well laid out and user-friendly. Pretty much everything I need is included here, so this will be my go-to resource. I’ve been interested in this for awhile now, having taught meditation for many years. Now I can really dive in – !

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Suze - 10 months ago

I am really enjoying reading your articles Nick. Thanks for this one. I actually learned deep breathing methods to calm me from my doctor back when I was pregnant (a few years back now). I have continued to do deep breathing and meditation throughout my life and find it has made a world of difference! Sharing this article, thanks again for all your research and the detailed information that you share.

Reply
    Nick Earl - 10 months ago

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment Suze! Yes even just a simple breathing practice can make such a massive difference in our ability to process the daily stressors of life. Good for you for keeping at your practice over the years. Kudos!

    Reply
Linda - 10 months ago

Thank you for all the research and time you spent on all this information. Very interesting how the body works. All the different parts of our body connecting to
our brain. Amazing how God made the body to intertwine together.

Reply
Quinn - 10 months ago

I am looking into ways to naturally lower blood pressure and have studied a lot of the processes you are discussing here. I appreciate your thorough research on PNS and I will be visiting again frequently. Thank you.

Reply
    Nick Earl - 10 months ago

    The above methods will definitely help you Quinn, the key is to consistently practice them, without that they are useless. (common sense I know, but we all need a reminder here and there 🙂 )

    Reply
alex - 10 months ago

Very fascinating information. I am always looking at health articles and its the first time i have ever heard about psn activations. I can see how this would be a great stress release and would produce a happier life.

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Carol Bemmels - 7 months ago

Hey Nick – Thank you so much for this well written explanation of the autonomic nervous system. I give lectures about a stress release technique that works because it’s activating the PNS response. I’m going to add a link to your site on my hand-out sheet. The technique I use as a practitioner is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), commonly called tapping and research from Harvard Medical School using functional MRIs show that stimulating these acupressure/acupuncture points sends a message to the amygdala (the “smoke alarm” of the brain) and activates the PNS. If you haven’t heard about it – you might want to check it out. It’s being used all around the world now and for my money is the fastest way to stop the runaway train of panic and anxiety. There’s good research (finally) and the APA is now okaying it for continuing education credits for psychologists. So, after this long commercial for EFT, let me again thank you for getting the word out about this important topic. With all the news that is coming out now about the connection of stress and disease of all kinds but particularly auto-immune disease – it’s so important to keep learning and passing on what we learn. Again, thanks.

Reply
    Nick Earl - 6 months ago

    Thanks Carol, I used to use EFT a lot. I know it’s efficacy, although I do think people tout it a little too much as some wonder cure, when it’s limited in what it can do, like most approaches. But yes, some fantastic work has been done with EFT, for example on the PTSD war vets, etc.

    Thanks for posting! 🙂

    Reply
Jaro - 6 months ago

Hello Nick,

First of all thank you for writing and sharing this article. I really enjoyed reading it, so much so that I am going to read it again as there is a lot to learn from. As you mentioned, many of the things you are writing about are known and used for thousands of years, especially in Buddhist practice, however this article validates and confirms these ancient techniques with scientific research and data. I think that is very important. While these things were known for such a long time, this validation is of big importance, mostly because the modern era brings up a lot of scepticism in us. It is shame therefor if there are people who are discouraged to try some of this technique or learning more about them in the first place just because they are in certain degree associated with various eastern religious dogmas. Articles such as yours certainly help. Jaro

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    Nick Earl - 6 months ago

    Thank you very much for the comment Jaro, yes it’s true, scientific validation makes things that would other wise be too easily labeled “woo woo” and such, easier to accept for those of us who like to stay in the mainstream. Hence why I generally try to reference my statements on this site as much as possible. Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
Debra Muse - a few months ago

I would really like to print this article, b/c i have trouble looking at computer screen for any length of time, but am not able to, nor is it allowing me to copy and paste so I can print that way. Your “contact us” page isn’t letting me send a message either.

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    Nick Earl - a few months ago

    I will email you the page Debra, sorry about this. I have to protect my content from been copied, so it won’t allow you to copy/paste.

    What was the issue with the contact us page? Can you tell me more specifics please?

    Thanks,

    Nick

    Reply
Andrea spreier - a few months ago

Nick, just wanted to thank you for the information. For the first time in a long time I have something to try other than tons of medications. I have suffered terribly for 9 years from Ehlers-Danlos, severe Dysautonomia and Klein- Levin syndrome. I have narcolepsy as well and “wired tired” every night that makes my narcolepsy even worse! I have narcoleptic seizures reading (Like Debra) it will take me a month to read all the extremely informative and interesting information you have written. 9 years of reading and Doctors apt’s and you have 10x more info then all of them combined! Thank you for taking the time!

Reply
    Nick Earl - a few months ago

    Thank you so much Andrea! I’m super pleased that you got so much from this article. If I can help you on your journey just a little bit, I’m really happy to do it! It’s comments like yours that make my work really rewarding, so thank you again for taking the time to leave your feedback!! 🙂

    Best wishes,

    Nick

    Reply
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