Meet Super Cell Phil to explore all ten systems

You just read about ten systems in your body that keep you alive and functioning in a way that makes you bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, better, happier…. the list goes on. We introduced them individually but in reality they are all working together…always, every day, every minute, every second. 

To illustrate clearly how they all work together, meet SuperCell Phil. He is going to show you just how these systems work as he explains two different situations and his subsequent flight around your body in each. You will see how well the systems you just read about interact to support each other in times of stress or injury in order to survive!

First story—a physical threat:

Here you are (ten thousand years ago) living with your community on the continent of Africa. You and your buddies are hunting and suddenly find that you are the ones actually being hunted. A tiger has just spotted you and he looks terribly hungry. You and your friends begin to run away, but the tiger has chosen to go after you (you just look so yummy—go you). SuperCell Phil now explains what he is seeing inside your body:

  • Your nervous system (specifically your autonomic nervous system) has instantaneously (meaning faster than you can text) sent messages from your brain to various systems via your endocrine system. 
  • Your endocrine system has alerted various organs to start releasing chemicals to aid in the stress response in order to live. You need to either fight the tiger (good luck with that) or flee the situation (aka flight). As such, those chemicals do a number of things to prepare the body for survival.
  • Your digestive system will slow down (energy isn’t needed to digest food right now!). 
  • Your immune system will be suppressed as well (meaning, it will slow down too). Fighting infections takes energy, and all of your energy right now needs to be spent on surviving the tiger. Surviving an infection can take a back seat at the moment.
  • Your excretory system might speed up (we don’t need the extra weight to run.) 
  • Your reproductive system slows as well. Think about that one: we certainly aren’t thinking about making babies when we need to run for our lives! 
  • Your respiratory and circulatory systems speed up. Why? Because we need to run as if a tiger is chasing us, because, well, one is! That means, we need more oxygen delivered to our muscles and organs to run fast!
  • Your muscular system and skeletal system then help to get you the heck out of there. 

Can you just imagine Super Cell Phil flying at super speed around the body watching all this activity? It’s exhausting. Not just for Phil, but for your body. When you are in stress mode, you are using up a lot of energy. But a physical stressor isn’t always your big concern. And tigers aren’t chasing us anymore—at least not in school. But can you think of what an analogy to that tiger might be? Let’s look at what might be threatening/chasing you at school…

Second story—a social threat.

As you know, your social life is pretty important. In fact, it is part of our survival. Think about it: mankind would not have survived if it weren’t for our social brains and the fact that we need and rely on each other. So when we feel a social rejection, or isolation, or abuse online, we feel threatened—no, no, not just scared or shamed. We feel that our life is in danger. That is how our bodies are wired. So the next time you feel rejected, don’t judge how awful you feel as if something is wrong with you. It’s perfectly normal to feel incredibly hurt because we are not meant to hurt each other. We need each other. And that is why you also have a stress response when you feel a social threat. You are in survival mode. It may look a little different than the physical threat. But it’s not that much different. 

People react to these social threats differently, but see if you can fill in where and how your ten systems would respond if you were not invited to the party and you saw all the fun photos on social media the next day. Or, if you walked up to a group of “friends” and they suddenly stop talking. Or, if you are always last to be picked on a team. The list is long. Now imagine what SuperCell Phil would see as he flies around your systems. 

Since all your systems are cooperating with each other to keep you healthy and alive (!), you can return the favor by:

Eating and drinking well: Do you eat nutritious food and provide your systems with all they need to stay healthy? Do you drink plenty of water? Your systems get their energy to work from the food and drinks you consume… give them the best! (Check out Nutrition here.)

Sleeping well: Do you get enough sleep each night (at least 8 hours) in order to help your brain recover and your cells reboot? Is your sleep uninterrupted by phone calls, texts and the like? Turn everything off so that you can log in proper sleep. (Check out Sleep here.)

Exercising regularly: Do you spend at least 30 minutes a day exercising? Do you lift weights? Stretch? Your body functions best when your cardiovascular system is fit, and you have strong flexible muscles. Regular exercise is what keeps you in fighting (or fleeing!) shape. (Check out Exercise here.)

Being mentally fit: Do you try to see the positive in situations? To look for the silver lining? People who do report more happiness in their lives. Try to keep your thoughts, especially your thoughts about who you are, to the positive. (Check out 3 Tips for Mental Health here.)

All of these areas help your ten systems to function to the best of their abilities, which means you get to function to the best of your abilities—go you! So keep in mind that everyday you make choices about how to “feed” your systems to help them do their job. What choices are you making? Are you ready to fight he next “tiger” that comes your way? Or to manage a social hurt? If you answer was “yes,” keep crushing it. If your answer was “no,” start crushing it. This website has all you need to know to make that happen and, you have ten systems just waiting to help you make that happen. Our money is on you.

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