When we are afraid of a situation, the brain sends a signal to the body to prepare itself. Have you ever wondered at the complexity of the processes involved? I don’t imagine we have time to think about the goings on inside, when faced with Fear, however it is worth knowing more if only to understand what really goes on “behind the scenes”.
First of all, it is useful to know how our Nervous System actually works. The Nervous System consists of 2 parts known as the Voluntary and Involuntary Systems.
The Voluntary Nervous System controls the movement of our limbs, head and body including the spinal cord which serves our muscles and allows us control over fingers, toes etc.
The Involuntary Nervous System controls our internal organs, our blood flow, saliva and sweat, our breathing and brain responses. This could be our face going red in the cheeks, palms sweating, pupils dilating and our heart beating faster.
Within the Involuntary Nervous System there are also 3 parts.
Sympathetic Nervous System – This prepares your body for mental and physical activity.
Parasympathetic Nervous System – Responsible for bodily functions while at rest. Including metabolic processes to allow relaxation.
Enteric Nervous System – Separate from the above, controlling the bowels and blood vessels.
When our bodies are in a state of Fear, the Sympathetic Nervous System locks out the other two systems, although they can overlap depending on the scale of fear experienced. In extreme situations, the Parasympathetic system can overload resulting too in a loss of control for the Enteric system, and your bladder and bowels will empty on the spot.
You can imagine coming up against something you Fear and typically your heart will beat very fast, hands will sweat, and you will be searching your mind for the best course of action.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is at work and will stimulate your adrenal glands to release more Adrenalin into your bloodstream to enhance your chances of coping with the challenge ahead; learning how to deal with the situation in the present.
Sometimes it is useful trying to break down why and how we see fear. By knowing more on how our body and internal workings operate, it is possible to work through each step of the Nervous System so as to acknowledge the steps involved.
For example, as you approach a situation, you feel your hands and brow sweating for no apparent reason. Your heart beats faster and a feeling of breathlessness follows.
If you have read this article and remember that it is your Involuntary Nervous System at work here, and perfectly normal, as it is your body putting up its own natural defence mechanism to protect you.
As always, if you feel that you require some guidance to help cope with fear or anxiety, please get in contact with me.
Thanks for reading and be safe.