Fight or Flight versus Rest and Digest: Many of us have heard of the “fight or flight” response. This is the nervous system’s response to our environmental stressors, increasing blood flow, heart rate and generally making us more alert and receptive to react. However, many of us aren’t as familiar with the nervous system’s additional response: “rest and digest.” Where the rest and digest response differs is that it activates the more tranquil functions of the body to maintain healthy, sustained balance (mentally and physically) and to basically “slow us down.”

What is involved in Rest and digest: The Automatic Nervous System is the ‘powerhouse’ that prepares our body for action. It consists of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our fight or flight response, prepares the body for a perceived threat or danger. The parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our rest and digest response, returns the body to a state of calm and counterbalance.

When Rest and Digest is activated, the body undergoes several reactions.

  • Saliva is increased
  • Digestive enzymes are released
  • Heart rate decreases
  • Muscles relax
  • Energy is conserved
  • + much more

How do we Action our Rest and Digest Response? The sympathetic nervous system, which actions our flight or fight response, kicks in automatically. Feeling your mouth dry up and your heart racing just before you’re about to give a big speech, for instance, is the fight or flight response kicking in. Activating our parasympathetic system and our rest and digest response, however, doesn’t happen automatically. To calm ourselves down, many people might find deep breathing exercises helpful, a stroll down the street to get some fresh air, or even some light exercises like yoga or tai chi can do the trick.

Anything we can do to keep ourselves in the “rest and digest” stage is worth the effort. Find what truly makes you feel relaxed. Whatever it is, pay close attention to your feelings and thoughts, and try to recreate that mental and emotional state whenever you are under stress.

Understanding for Better Health: The less time spent in fight or flight mode, the better.  The prolonged stress can take a huge toll on our body and can even develop into a form of illness (e.g. stomach pains, headaches, sweats and anxiety). If you can become more conscious of the way that your body reacts to stress, it will pay enormous dividends in the future.[1] As most of us nowadays are under some form of chronic stress, by learning how to trigger your body’s rest and digest response, you can improve your overall state of health and wellbeing and avoid illnesses that can be triggered by chronic stress.

Support the Healthy Functioning of your Nervous System: VITUS Pure Ocean Sourced Magnesium

When you need to action your rest and digest response, we suggest sitting down to relax with a healthy and nutritious snack infused with VITUS Pure Ocean Sourced Magnesium. This clean and convenient wholefood offers 100% RDI and works to support the functioning of your nervous system, calm sore muscles and aid in better sleep. For recipe ideas, take a look at Wholefood Chef Tracey Bennet’s Calming Turmeric Latte with VITUS Magnesium. If you’re pressed for time, VITUS Magnesium is available in capsule form too.


[1] Hansen, F 2018 ‘Fight or Flight versus Rest and Digest,’ The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, published 29 October, viewed 21 January 2019, <>

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published