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Sympathy for the devil?

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

by Maureen St. Germain

Maureen has been a Native Barre Studios instructor for 5 years.

In September 2019, I started a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner course through the Nutritional Therapy Association. I have been continually amazed and excited as I learn about the human body and how we can use food to help heal ourselves from chronic conditions as well as aid with healthy aging. Each month, I will pick a topic and provide insight so we all can work towards optimal health.

These are crazy times for sure! One thing that isn’t going to make anyone feel better mentally or physically is to live in a sympathetic state. What exactly is a sympathetic state? It is our fight or flight reflex, our response to a stressful situation. Looking back to our ancestors, this reflex came into action when they were being chased by wild game and their life was on the line, it was not an everyday, every hour occurrence that many people experience today.

Today, with our stressful lives, our phones and computers that seem to ding constantly, our 24 hour news cycle (I am unsure if it is supposed to make us feel better or worse!), and diets that are filled with refined and processed foods, our fight or flight reflex is triggered multiple times a day. Basically we give into whatever stress present, all the time, every time. A constant sympathetic reaction to whatever “devil” is present in front of us.

So what should we be doing? Try our best to live in a parasympathetic state or in plainer terms, our “rest and digest” state. Especially in these challenge times, we need to give ourselves a break and support our mental and physically well-being. I know this can be easier said than done but even baby steps can lead to big changes. I have outlined a few options, maybe all these sound terrible to you but I hope it at least gets your creative juices flowing and helps you think of some options that could work well for you.

For work

-No longer have a commute because you are working at home? Why not give yourself a commute by taking at 10-15 minute walk before you sit down to work and another 10-15 minute walk to wind down and after you are done for the day. The fresh air and sun can do wonders to help us relax and shift our mood.

-Put your computer/ phone away at night. For everyone this timing will differ. I do my best not to look at my phone after 9PM. I understand this may not work for your schedule but maybe there is a timeframe that is appropriate for you.

For meals

Did you know digestion starts in the brain!? The sight and smell of food trigger salvia production which begins the chemical breakdown of your food. Your teeth are responsible for the mechanical breakdown of food. So…

-Sit down to eat! This is very important for good digestion. How could you possibly digest a meal and feel nourished if you are in fight or flight state? The parasympathetic state is also know as “rest and digest” for a reason!

-Take 5 deep breaths before you start to eat to help you transition into a parasympathetic state.

For self

-BE NICE! Self-hating and negative comments impact our mental state. If you can’t be nice to yourself, then who can? When a negative thought enters your head, try to turn it around. For example, “I am so fat, I haven’t worked out”…change the comment to be, “I don’t feel good, I know it is because I haven’t exercised, I need to change that tomorrow.

-Start small to set yourself up for success. Saying you are going to start to work out is a big step. Set goals that are realistic, you can’t go from couch potato to marathon runner in a week. It is more realistic to go from couch potato to walking for 10 minutes a day for a week and then slowly adding on time.

-Try mediation. There are so many free apps now, maybe one with resonate with you.

-A simple breath technique to incorporate into daily life if you are feeling stress build is the 4-7-8 technique

-Inhale through your nose for a count of 4

-Hold your breath for a count of 7

-Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8

-Movement is essential! Did you know you could do Native Barre Studios classes at home through Native on Demand? Visit to learn more. If your internet isn’t great, take a walk or run! Just MOVE!!

I ask that you take a few minutes to figure out what may work for you. Does making a favorite recipe help to calm you? Try to incorporate cooking into your lifestyle 2-3 times a week. Does being able to sit still for 15 minutes and stare out a window feel good to clear your head…then do it.

We are all unique individuals and handle stress much differently but it is important that we take time everyday to find a parasympathetic state. It essential for our mental and physical well being.

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