Emotional responses come from a range of inputs and our nervous system throws out all sorts of outputs. Here's the quick for the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems. I'm wanting you to look after yourself.

Sympathetic Nervous System

This is the stress system but do remember, stress can come in good ways and bad ways. Good stress could come from competition where you get amped up and bad stress could be from unreachable deadlines. The common way to see this is "fight or flight", and our brains produce all sorts of hormones to get our bodies ready. We're going to pick on two and look at just a couple of many things they bring to the table:


We all know it well. Heart starts going and critical thinking goes too. This is all about our lizard brain function and it wants blood (carrying oxygen) to muscles and to throw away unnecessary things like speaking and thinking because they're not gonna help us run or fight.


We need to pump fuel around to keep us amped and cortisol puts up the amount of sugars in the blood while at the same time stopping our digestion. Long term cortisol can compromise our immune systems.

There's about 50 different hormones around the Sympathetic Nervous system and even those above do a lot more than mentioned but it's enough for us now to understand the following:

We can feel the same way about our jobs as we do when facing a tiger.

Which is a wild thought. How can we feel the same life or death in an office vs facing a wild animal? It's because our lizard brain doesn't see a difference between the two. To our lizard bit, threats are the same regardless of how they are skinned. You have to look after yourself, just because it isn't an animal doesn't mean it isn't real. If it isn't addressed it will give you long term issues like heart problems, weight gain or a bad immune system. We all know stress isn't good for us so let's frame it in a way where as a society we can start being better at preventing, remedying and addressing stress.  

Parasympathetic Nervous System

"Feed and Breed", "Rest and Digest" or other things you joked with your friends - things around here make us feel safe, rewarded and loved. Oh is that the immune system kicking in again after we're safe from the tiger? Thanks Parasympathetic Nervous System. Who wouldn't love this system, here's some hormones that interplay with it:


A classic. Our love and trust hormone. We get it from connecting with others (including animals), touch, eye contact and way more. The good stuff.


Timeless. Makes us feel good. We get some when we reach an achievement and receive reward. Again, read up on all the other neat stuff dopamine can give us.  


Famous. The natural mood regulator. You want focus? You got it. You want to feel happier. Bingo, right here. If you're looking for this one, try on the shelf that has nature, sleeping, and exercise.


Fantastic. This is our pain reducer and short term stress reducer. This is our high and we can grab it by having a laugh or some exercise.

There are a couple more, but this'll do for now.

I'm painting with a bias, there is always going to be something going wrong when there is too much or too little of a hormone - including the ones in the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Like how drug addiction can come from a huge dopamine hit giving some hard emotional crashes afterwards.

Now, if you don't have much of your own hormones related to the Parasympathetic Nervous System, store bought is fine. I'm not a medical professional, but sometimes we just need a little help getting our brain balances right. Go check with your doctor.

To Finish

Your stress at work is real, it may not look like it, but to your brain it is. Take some time to understand, sit with and learn how to reduce it. Maybe reduction in stress can come from addressing the issue, by looking in yourself for re-framing or exercise or by removing yourself from the issue.

Follow that up with getting things in the Parasympathetic going by hugging a dog, walking in a park while really taking in the air and colours or have a laugh with friends.

et voilà