What Is The Autonomic Nervous System And Can We Control It?

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Can you control your autonomic nervous system?

This is a question I have never asked myself because I didn’t even consider it. I didn’t think it was possible to control the processes that happen subconsciously within my body, because it sounds like something quite futuristic to me!

Think about it for a moment:

  • Are you consciously telling yourself to breath in and out throughout the day?
  • Do you, yourself, register at the exact moment when you need to blink?
  • When you are falling, do you quickly tell yourself to put your hands out in front of you to brace your fall?
  • Do you tell yourself to move your hand when you have accidentally placed it on a hot stove top?
  • More still, when you find yourself in a stressful situation, do you tell the necessary glands to start secreting hormones to help you respond adequately?

Obviously the answer is no. We don’t control much of our bodies it seems. While conducting research on the autonomic nervous system, I was in awe at the intricacy of it all. The network of hormones, signals, vessels, reflexes and responses are largely out of our control and thank goodness for that because we are not even aware of just how much is actually going on “behind the scenes”.

We barely have to think at all because our brains react so quickly. When our hand is on a stove top, we have already quickly removed it at just a hint of heat. There is no way we would ever be able to consciously control every last aspect of our bodies. It is so intricately put together and functions so incredibly quick and smart that it would blow your mind.

However, when it comes to certain life experiences, such as dealing with stress, anxiety and depression, it is possible to stimulate certain nerves to get the autonomic nervous system to respond and counteract those negative feelings.

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