How to Cope With Chronic Stress and Relax

If you’ve ever visited a yoga or meditation studio, you’ve probably heard of the term “resetting” the nervous system. It appears to be genuine, but what does it actually imply?

Here, we debunk the myth and explain why it’s so vital for general health and happiness.


We must look to the autonomic nervous system when we talk about ‘resetting’ the nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system is a part of the central processing centre, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of the entire nervous system. It controls body functions such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion that you don’t have to think about. Jennifer Novak, MS, a licenced strength and conditioning specialist and performance recovery coach, argues that when you hear the word “autonomic,” you should think “automatic.” Your autonomic nervous system reacts to your surroundings and circumstances by initiating a sequence of automatic actions to assist you in dealing with the issue.

There are two elements to the autonomic nervous system:


The sympathetic component of your autonomic nervous system, also known as the “fight-or-flight” system, kicks in when you’re faced with a threat (real or imagined). It’s what causes the beating in your chest when you’re having a disagreement with a buddy or lover. According to Novak, it also raises respiration and blood pressure, decreases blood flow to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, slows digestion, and transports more glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream.


The parasympathetic nervous system, which is sometimes referred to as the “rest-and-digest” system, is the sympathetic nervous system’s opposite. According to Novak, once a threat has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system goes to work restoring normal heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, blood sugar, and digestion.


According to Dr. Stephanie Marango, an integrative physician in New York City, mainstream medicine has no clinical definition of ‘reset’ as it pertains to your neural system. As a result, your interpretation of the concept may be influenced by how you define the term “reset.”

However, a ‘reset’ can refer to a change that improves the operation of your body (particularly the neurological system). “It’s similar to how we reset a clock, an odometer, or a computer so it functions properly again,” Marango explains.

“There is a bringing-into-balance that occurs in all of these examples,” she continues. In this sense, resetting the nervous system could imply balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic reactions, which can differ depending on how you feel about balance.


If you’re constantly nervous, for example, meditation, deep breathing, and other soothing techniques that activate your parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” response may help. “Someone who is feeling lethargic, for example, can benefit from engaging the sympathetic nervous system by doing an energising vinyasa flow or going for a run,” Marango explains.

However, in our fast-paced environment, most of us may benefit from greater parasympathetic rather than sympathetic responses. “As a result, when people talk about ‘resetting’ the nervous system, they’re talking about stress-management approaches that help our autonomic nervous system shift from sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic division,” Novak explains.


It’s no secret that many of us are extremely stressed. Stress is beneficial in moderation, but with the amount of strain many of us endure on a daily basis, your nervous system is likely to be on high alert.

“When stressors are removed, our systems are intended to reset naturally,” Novak adds. However, if a stressor is persistent (such as going from a hectic workday to an HIIT workout and then into a fight with your partner), your sympathetic response will be active for longer than is good. According to a 2015 study, chronically higher heart rates, stress hormones (such as cortisol), and blood pressure levels (among other sympathetic responses) may raise your risk of chronic illnesses (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes).

Furthermore, all that stress may lead you to seek solace through bad habits (such as drinking and binge eating), which may exacerbate any chronic diseases you may have established, according to Novak.


Start incorporating relaxing activities into your day if you’re continuously anxious.

Restorative yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are all excellent ways to relax your nervous system. They’re all different, but they all entail taking calm, full breaths, which, according to Marango, “invokes the parasympathetic nervous system.”

She goes on to say, “Breathing is one of the few physiologic activities that may be both involuntary and voluntary.” So, if you’re feeling anxious or agitated, take slow, deep breaths to bring yourself back to a more relaxed condition. Novak recommends inhaling deeply through the nose, holding for a second or two, and then breathing out (as if through a straw) until you feel like you’ve exhaled completely. Repeat as many times as necessary until you feel at ease.

You can also go for a quiet, meditative walk, give your partner a bear embrace (Novak recommends holding for at least 20 seconds), or make a gratitude list.

“Of course, reducing, alleviating, or eliminating additional stressors from our lives is really beneficial,” says Novak. Consider how you might reduce mental, emotional, and physical stress in your day-to-day life.

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