Let's check out the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
You don't have to wade through the books or websites full of heavy medical jargon. Those used to make me put my head down on the computer desk, made my brain hurt, sent me to bed.
There are some that are easy to comprehend, even by those of us with a head full of fog.
This is my understanding of the state of things for me.
I lived carrying a lot of stress and alot of pressures. Too heavy for too many years. Throw in whatever genetic factors might be in play in my own particular case. Toxins, allergies, sensitivities, undetected and unrelieved, added to the mix. Not enough sleep, worn out to the bone.
Then, I got hit with a virus that knocked me over. I didn't rest. I did what I always did. I kept going if it meant I had to crawl. More stressors, more physical breakdown.
My brain was literally telling me to stop. The word "Depleted" appeared in my head repeatedly for two years before I went chronic. Like an idiot light in a car indicating low oil, or something. But I didn't know how to interpret that. I didn't know what I was monkeying with.
And I told my brain "No".
My brain finally made me stop.
Sympathetic nervous system is Fight or Flight. A good thing in a crisis. Bad when it's constantly activated by circumstances,ongoing emergencies, insufficient resources, poor health, for too long a time. Its chemicals become deleterious to the body, things start to break down.
Adrenals wear out. Immune system starts to get wonky. Pituitary starts to try to help out as adrenals run out of their arsenal. The hypothalamic / pituitary / adrenal axis gets messed up. This is a very bad thing because the HPA axis is the body's conductor of the stress response and all systems related to it.
You're now looking at an endocrine-wide problem.
The parasympathetic nervous system is rest, restoration. Good chemicals for healing the body. We need to activate it. Alot.
We're out of the habit, the body is already going a different way. Breakdown has already begun, and just basic living is a huge drain. And we're really scared by what is happening to us.
So we have to gear down, way down. Especially when we are really freaked. Like now.
We need to learn how to . . . relax. In a very stressful situation, of being ill. We maybe don't know how to relax in the first place.
But the more we stay in parasympathetic, and out of sympathetic, the more we can heal.
So we learn to go to bed. Sleep. Rest. Bow out of interactions with others, while we heal. But inside we chafe.
So -- oops! -- we've stepped out of parasympathetic. Okay. Slow breathing. Enter into rest. Again. And again. As often as necessary. Whenever we are aware of the need. (Which will be alot.)
Learn mind and body techniques. Yoga, tai chi, knitting, meditation, prayer. Alternate nostril breathing switches on the parasympathetic nervous system. (I forget why. :-)
Visualization of peaceful places, pleasant situations, having hope when it seems there is none . . . all help to bring us where we need to go.
There is no instant fix. Quit expending energy looking for one. It took us awhile to get into this predicament and it will take awhile, doing the things that work, to get us out.
We will end up changed as individuals.
We'll have to in order to get better.