Updated: Nov 18, 2020
"Sometimes the best solution is to rest, relax, and recharge. It's hard to be your best on empty."
- Sam Glenn
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) - in general, it’s our quick action and response center. SNS allows us to physically perform. At the extreme, it puts us on high alert 🚨, it’s our “fight or flight” response.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) - at the extreme, we are at rest. In general, it allows us to relax and calm both mind and body. It allows us to rest, recover, digest, feed, and breed.
Both are part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), it’s what bridges involuntary actions, like breathing and heart rate, with our thoughts and actions.
With technology and the push to multitask, we are consistently activating and using our SNS.
Even when we think we are at rest or relaxing we are in a mindset of action and active thought. The brain reacts the same way to imagining an action as it does to physical action.
We need a balance of both systems to allow us to perform optimally in sport. Finding a balance doesn’t mean we should, e.g., eat a sandwich and run a race at the same time or drive a car and eat at the same time.
The ideal is to be able to activate our SNS in a way that makes us ready vs start slow or start at fight or flight (overly worried, nervous, or excited). And, once we are done, we need to turn it off and activate our PNS.
Tip of the day 🎯
Map out your day: Identify the times you need to active your SNS for action and when you need to relax and activate your PNS.
E.g., at lunchtime, stop working or looking at social media. Just eat. Even if you take 10min to just eat, it can serve as a moment to active your PNS.
Check out these two links on mindful eating.