Feeling Stressed? Try Toning Your Vagus Nerve
| LAST UPDATE 10/21/2022
Have you ever felt stressed and had no idea what to do? There are steps you can take that can help you get through a moment of anxiety or stress that don’t take too much time or effort - no joke! Your vagus nerve is a major nerve system that can help you destress. Let’s dive deeper.
Vagus means “wandering” in Latin, and the vagus nerve is aptly nicknamed “the wandering nerve.” It is also called the “information superhighway” because it is the longest cranial nerve in the body. It runs from the brainstem to the colon and is responsible for a variety of functions. The vagus nerve is connected to every system in the body, meaning it has a lot of influence. It is mainly linked with the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight instinct and acts to counterbalance this natural response. Additionally, it is responsible for digestion, heart rate, the immune system, and reflexes, like coughing, sneezing, and more. In other words, your vagus nerve does a whole lot.
Since the vagus nerve counterbalances the fight or flight response, if it is enacted, then it can help ease stress and anxiety. Vagus toning energizes the benefits of your automatic nervous system. When you have a healthy vagal tone, you have better emotional, mental, and physical health. Enough of that! Let’s get to how to tone the vagus nerve. Deep belly breaths are a great way to begin. Take a slow inhale, expand that breath into your belly, rib cage, and abdomen, and finish by exhaling very slowly. You should aim for six breaths per minute. Another way to activate the parasympathetic response is by taking an icy cold shower. You can also loudly gargle water, have a good laugh, or get a foot massage.
Needless to say, taking care of ourselves - internally and externally - is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Stay tuned for more self-care tips. And remember, you got this.