The autonomic nervous system and stress react with one another within the human body, causing anything from a fight-or-flight feeling to mental tranquility. Stress can take an internal form, such as a chronic disease, or be externally applied from family and professional commitments. The human autonomic nervous system tries to alleviate stress to maintain hormonal and mental balance.
The sympathetic and the parasympathetic networks comprise the autonomic system. Immediate hormonal reactions to stress occur from the sympathetic network, protecting the body from physical or mental harm. The parasympathetic network resumes control over the sympathetic system once the alleged threat, or stress, has been solved or removed. A feeling of calm and tranquility fills the person's mind, allowing the body to return to normal functioning.
The autonomic nervous system and stress are constantly battling. The body naturally wants to remain calm and balanced, but everyday stressful life requires both the sympathetic and parasympathetic networks to work to ensure the person's overall physical and mental safety. Stress causes the body's adrenal gland to emit the hormone adrenaline, as directed by the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system. Adrenaline gives the body immediate energy and alertness for dealing with the stress. The heart beats faster, causing more oxygen to infiltrate the muscles and brain for rapid responses to external situations.
The autonomic nervous system and stress can combine to hurt the body if the stress exposure is long term. Hormone secretions occur from other glands within the body, preventing any extraneous energy exertions. A main system impaired by the autonomic nervous system and stress mixture is the immunity network. Long term stress will impede the body's natural ability to fight disease, causing more illnesses over time.
The human body does need small amounts of stress for an overall healthy life. Daily challenges, from work projects to a school essay paper, help the body secrete neurotransmitters. These hormones, like norepinephrine, help the brain form new connections for memories and newly learned information through the interaction of the autonomic nervous system and stress.
Some people may not realize that they are in a constantly stressful situation, wherein the autonomic nervous system is battling continually between calm and alertness. For example, city dwellers, with a persistent traffic hum and loud industrial noises, tend to have a higher level of stress compared to a rural dweller. Experts suggest keeping life as simple as possible, including reducing electronics use. Even electromagnetic fields, emanating from electronics, cause hidden stresses for the human body.