A seesaw can only have one side fully raised at a time.
That’s the image I like to conjure when describing how your sympathetic, and parasympathetic nervous systems work; in opposition to each other.
Neither is good or bad; when either one is engaged too often or too little, effects can be harmful.
But both are beneficial, and crucial for your health to thrive as well.
The sympathetic nervous system is the one that helps you run away from lions, do lots of pushups, and hit tight deadlines at work.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the one that helps you rest, digest your food, and recover from exercise and injury.
(In short. There’s a lot deeper you can go there.)
Problems arise when you are ‘always on’.
If you’re ‘always on’, then you’re never ‘off’. You’re never really resting, recovering, or digesting fully.
You start to get really tired, or chronically fatigued, or think & behave irrationally, or … well there’s a lot of other undesirable things that can happen there too.
That’s why it’s really important to make time to engage your parasympathetic nervous system, particularly in the 21st century. There are so many things fighting for your attention, constantly.
Except your body and mind (or, no-mind) need attention too. They need to rest.
Of course you know that the word meditation was going to come up soon, but, that’s not the only way.
Sleep, cooking, folding laundry, nature, breathing, tactile hobbies, family meals, empowering exercises (not the draining kind), and many, many other things can help get you back into a better state of balance between the two systems.
I can’t list them all here but I can tell you that if you’re not paying attention to the other side of the seesaw, you’re just fooling yourself.
Your mind might be able to run full speed for many, many years before your body brings it to a halt.
Your body will do it’s best to stay in balance and keep your mind going for as long as it can. That’s what it does.
But eventually, it starts to break down.
Give it half a chance to heal itself. That’s all it needs.