Parasympathetic Pastimes

Posted Jun 01, 2021 at 14:19

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What activities you do in your free time will have a big effect on how your body works and therefore your overall health. In this blog I will be highlighting the key areas to consider when deciding your hobbies or pastimes, but first some for some background information.

Something you’ll have heard us talk about many times before is sympathetic vs parasympathetic.

For those who don’t know, sympathetic's is a stress response from the limbic system which is a fast acting part of the brain that releases hormones, in particular cortisol and adrenaline. When the Limbic system is stimulated in response to a stress experience it quickly releases cortisol, our stress hormone and adrenaline our fight or flight hormone while simultaneously turn off our logical parts of the brain. These hormones cause a chemical avalanche in the body where blood rushes to the big muscles in our shoulders and thighs, our heart rates and blood pressure increase and we are ready for battle.

Parasympathetics is the opposite response, our Prefrontal Cortex is stimulated which is the logical part of our brains we think clearly, there is no hormone dump into our bloodstream and we are in a state of homeostasis or inner peace. Here we thrive in a state of good health where the small muscles close to the spine can act like guide ropes ensuring messages from our brains quickly and accurately get to our muscles for good and proper function and our spines remain subluxation free.

What we choose to do in our free time plays a major part in all of this. Granted there are some aspects of life that are non negotiable like the cleaning, food shopping etc that take up some of our “free time”. Regardless of those jobs and our working weeks there should still be time for 5+ hours per week of free time that you freely choose to engage in whatever activities you wish. These precious hours should be used to tip the scales towards parasympathetics and not squandered on our phones or the sofa. This is not to say we should be rushed off our feet in that time either but simply engaging in activities that stimulate our nervous systems but in a relaxed and calm manner to promote parasympathetics.

This is different for everybody, some examples from our team are golf, fishing, reading or meditating. All of which require a degree of being present and in the moment while allowing you “switch off” and “slow down” thus promoting parasympathetics and overall health. This doesn't have to be something physical, knitting, puzzles, getting a massage are all great examples that require very little physical expenditure and can be done from the comfort of a warm dry house.

By discovering your parasympathetic pastimes you will promote overall health and well being in an enjoyable and time efficient way so your down time isn’t spent in another YouTube black hole watching cat videos wondering why you have no time for yourself.