Christian Stress Release

What Is Stress Really – Your Nervous System (Parts 6 & 7)

Plastic model of a brain and neuron (brain split in half to see the inside parts)

Our nervous systems are the main communicators between our brains and bodies, especially around stress.

Your brain and nervous system are the 2 main bodily systems that make up your mental health, from a physical perspective. This month we’re learning the anatomy of these systems.


By understanding how God created you, you can begin to look at why He created you in this way. From there, you can understand how satan is distorting God’s creation to hurt you. Finally, you can find the right resources to help counteract satan’s attack, to bring mental and physical peace into your mental and emotional self.


And today, we’re talking about your nervous system.

Anatomy of The Nervous System

God designed your nervous system to connect your brain to your body. It’s the communication line between your operating system (your brain) and the machine running the show (your body).


It’s split into 2 main branches with many moving parts, one of which is responsible for your stress.

The 2 Main Branches of the Nervous System

Your nervous system has 2 main branches: your Central Nervous System and your Peripheral Nervous System.


Your Central Nervous System runs your brain and spinal cord activities. Your Peripheral Nervous System runs the rest of your body.

Diagram of the anatomy of the nervous system, including the Central and Peripheral branches.

When you look at how your nervous system runs your mental health, you’re looking at the Peripheral branch.


Weird right? You’d think you’d want to look at the brain side of things.


But God knew your mental health would need physical actions to back it up. If you’re in danger, you can’t just think about running, you need to actually run. So He designed you to have a connection between your brain and body.


We call this the Autonomic Nervous System (or ANS for short). 

The Autonomic Nervous System

It includes both your Sympathetic and Parasympathetic divisions. These control your bodily functions that shift your physiology from the state of peace to stress (and vice versa).


Autonomic means automatic, so you can’t control this part of yourself. It happens automatically, in God’s perfect design.


There are “healthy” and “unhealthy” states of your ANS*. Healthy is when you’re calm and carefree. Unhealthy is when you’re stressed and in survival mode.

*While we technically call these healthy and unhealthy, there is a beautiful purpose for the unhealthy states. They are your survival instincts that keep you alive – God’s abundant gift to you in this cursed world. What makes them unhealthy is when you’re safe and don’t need to be in them, but are. This is what we call mental health dysfunction, and is where your stress and disorders live.

Healthy States of the Autonomic Nervous System

In their healthy states, your ANS divisions are responsible for:



    • Rest and Digest (peace, calm)



    • Movement and Exercise (motivation, excitement)


These states are considered a Regulated Nervous System.

Diagram of the anatomy of the Autonomic Nervous System in the state of Rest & Digest, and all the organ and bodily system functions in this state.

The diagram shows the bodily functions of the state of Rest and Digest.

Diagram of the anatomy of the Autonomic Nervous System in the state of Fight or Flight, and all the organ and bodily system functions in this state.

Unhealthy States of the Autonomic Nervous System

In their unhealthy states, your ANS divisions are responsible for:



    • Freeze (shutdown, numb, depression)



    • Fight or Flight (bad stress, anxiety, panic)


These states are considered a Dysregulated Nervous System.

The diagram shows the bodily functions of the state of Fight or Flight.

The Vagus Nerve

In recent decades, psychologists have begun to discovered how this all happens within you. It’s through a nerve called the vagus nerve.


It’s the main nerve running from your brain to your gut. This makes sense when you consider that your digestive function is a huge part of your peace and stress states. Rest & Digest vs. Fight, Flight, Freeze (no digestion).

Anatomy of the Vagus Nerve

Your brain has 12 cranial nerves that run from the base of your brain through the rest of your body. This is how your brain (your operating system) runs your body (the machine doing the work).


These cranial nerves exist to provide information to your brain about the world around you. This information helps your brain determine if you’re safe or not.


From that determination, your brain tells your nervous system whether to be at peace (Rest & Digest) or panicked (Stress).


This information includes other people’s facial expressions (ie. non-verbal communication), as well as everything you hear, see and smell.

Diagram of the anatomy of the Vagus Nerve, the main nerve of the nervous system, and all the organ and bodily system functions that it is responsible for.

Sounds kind of wild right? But it’s this information that helps your brain determine whether or not you’re safe or in danger.


Your vagus nerve (the 10th Cranial Nerve), runs from your brain down to your gut. It connects multiple organs to your brain, including:

    • Heart
    • Lungs
    • Eyes
    • Digestive System
    • Immune
    • Reproductive System


Sound familiar? Scroll back up and look at those diagrams of Healthy and Unhealthy states. Every organ or bodily system that changes when you’re calm or stressed is included in this. Your vagus nerve is the nerve in your ANS that does the communication with your body.

Pretty cool huh? What a discovery in psychology.


So when you’re calm, you can thank your vagus nerve for helping you be in that state. And when you’re stressed, you can ask God to help bring peace to your vagus nerve.


I actually do this. I pray for the Holy Spirit to regulate my nervous system, and help me come back to the state of Rest & Digest. Kind of like when I pray for the Him to fill me with His fruits (listing them individually).

Overwhelmed With All This Science?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, deep breaths beautiful lady. Science can be a bit heady at times, but it has a such a beautiful benefit in helping you live and rest in the state of peace in your mind and body.


If you’re ready for the techniques to just help you get to the peace, you can dive in right here.


I’m praying for you

   – L aura

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