Your parasympathetic nervous system can be your best friend. Here is how to get acquainted.

Stress-related illnesses abound in modern life. But enough about that. Even if you don´t get a stress-related disease, how the hell wants to be stressed? It erodes the quality of every aspect of life. Fortunately, there are a number of effective ways to combat stress. Simply said: Activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system will look like this. Heart rate decreases, blood vessels dilate, muscles relax, digestion increases, pupils constrict.  Oh, and your rectum relaxes, just in case you wanted to know. Itś rest and digest, baby. It restores your body and is overall leads to better health. Here are 6 ways to kick it into gear.

Deep Breathing

When you breathe deeply and slowly you instantly activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the easiest and quickest way to calm down and relax. In fact, many people do this naturally when frustrated.  The problem is they do not do it enough. If you find yourself in a ¨huff” keep on taking some slow deep huffs and your stress levels will benefit. If you would like to get started with a simple guide to some breathing techniques, click here.


Yoga combines both stretching and breathing. Stress reduction is one of yoga´s biggest benefits. You don´t have to wear Lululemon pants or light incense. Doing yoga can be as simple as doing a few poses when you wake up or before bedtime. You don´t even have to shell out $20 for a class. There are plenty of YouTube channels with tons of routines you can follow from the comfort of your own home.


Studies have shown that meditation is excellent at treating stress and lowering blood pressure. There are many different types including mindfulness meditation techniques and transcendental meditation. The key is to be still, focused and relaxed. This will calm down all of your bodily systems and bring a much needed break from everyday life.


To get moving and sweaty is one of the best ways to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. You get the blood pumping and heart going and muscles moving. As you cool down, you relax and the systems in your body improve. Digestion, heart rate, muscle relaxation. All of these are aided by regular exercise.


Being in a sauna is going to dilate your blood vessels, relax your muscles and strengthen your heart. If you´re already going to the gym, don´t forget to hit the sauna before or after. Your parasympathetic nervous system will thank you and so will your stress levels. 10-12 minutes is enough to get a nice sweat going and feel some definite benefits. Make sure to drink water after.

Float Tank

If you ever listen to Joe Rogan´s podcast you´ve heard of floating. It is basically a sensory deprivation tank in which you float in salt water in almost complete darkness. Many people find it relaxing and rejuvenating.  Studies have shown it to be quite beneficial. You don´t need to learn any techniques or do anything at all. Just relax and float. That´s about as simple as it gets.

Featured image by ZEISS Microscopy — Flickr.