Autonomic Nervous System

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Definition - What does Autonomic Nervous System mean?

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates the function and efficiency of organs unconsciously, so the regulation to maintain homeostasis (inner balance) requires no intentional effort. The ANS also controls blood vessels and skin cells — essentially all organs that are involuntarily controlled. The ANS is important to occupational health and safety because disorders in the ANS are related to drug use, spinal cord disorders and neurological disorders.

SureHire explains Autonomic Nervous System

The ANS helps process stress and restores the body back to its resting state. The autonomic nervous system is divided into the enteric, parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems. The enteric nervous system is located in the gastrointestinal tract, and is charged with ensuring the proper functioning of the digestive organs. The parasympathetic nervous system's function is known colloquially as 'rest and digest.' This stage occurs during experiences of safety, where relaxation is possible because vigilance is unnecessary. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system engages during periods of threat, where the nervous system elevates to prepare to fight or flight.

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