The Autonomic Nervous System Part 2: Rest & Digest

The Parasympathetic Nervous System

The Parasympathetic Nervous System, often referred to as the Rest and Digest response, takes over when there are no threats present. When you don't need to fight, run, or freeze, your body can go back to chillin' out and taking care of itself.

Your blood and energy return to your digestion, your heart rate maintains its normal (non-emergency) rate, your adrenal glands stop releasing adrenaline, your pupils stop dilating, and the muscles that contract to make your hair stand on end relax.

This is the place you want your body to be when you are not facing an immediate threat or emergency.

In this state you get to put your resources towards thriving instead of surviving: your body performs maintenance and upkeep, aka healing.

The Importance of "Rest and Digest"

You can see how essential the parasympathetic nervous system is to your overall health. Without it, you wouldn't be able to efficiently process nutrients, sleep, enjoy a day on the beach, read a book, give a hug - any activity that requires you to be calm.

If you were always in Fight, Flight or Freeze your heart would wear out, your digestive system wouldn't have enough energy to do its work, your eyes would constantly be on alert.

It would be very hard to fall asleep, do focused work in a sustainable manner, or go about your daily life. Which probably sounds an awful lot like you, since you are dealing with chronic pelvic pain.

So Now What?

In the next post you'll learn about how to keep your nervous system in balance, so you have your Fight, Flight or Freeze response primed to go when you need it, and can spend the rest of the time happily Restin' and Digestin'.