How does our nervous system respond to stress? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Our internal hardwiring known as our nervous system is divided into a steady state mode, known as the parasympathetic arm, and the fight or flight mode, known as the sympathetic arm. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, reminds us that for almost two years now we’ve been living on high alert.

Swartz: Many have been living in a fight or flight mode for months and months at a time. And that’s taking a toll, both physically and psychologically. So how can we manage this high level of stress? One important step is to manage expectation. We need to recognize that we’re all going to need to adapt, to make changes and to deal with the very different circumstances that we’re in. We also need to be better about identifying the support and resources we have, and actually utilizing them.  :27

Swartz says most of us enjoy a much more robust network of support than we may recognize. Beginning with family and friends may allow your entire circle to realize that these emotions are more common than not at this point in the pandemic. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.