Considered the parasympathetic nerve, the vagus nerve is essential to relaxation. Reaching many organs, some of its key roles involve the digestive system, heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Of course, these are all important to calming you down after an event; that’s why the parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest & digest” part of your autonomic nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, the “fight or flight” part. Often, your vagus nerve is not stimulated enough, which tells your brain to stress and remain active in case an emergency arises.
So, how do you strengthen your vagus nerve, so you can feel calmer?
Sit somewhere nice, like outside, and be comfortable as you are.
Then, begin with simple deep breathing, by holding your hand on your belly and feeling it rise and fall as you breathe, as you fill your lower lungs. Your vagus nerve is stimulated as you move your diaphragm in this slow and rhythmic way.
Move onto more advanced exercises, such as the 4-7-8 technique! Breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose, hold for 7, and exhale for 8 out through your mouth. Repeat for as long as time allows!
Alternatively, try the Valsalva maneuver, which involves holding your nose and mouth shut while attempting to exhale, for 10-15 seconds at a time. This is meant to increase internal pressure which stimulates the vagus nerve. This technique is popular to doctors with patients whose heart rate is dangerously high, but it’s also a great technique for the rest of the population in general.
Controlling your physiological mechanisms in this way strengthen your vagus nerve greatly. With more and more practice, it gets easier.
Additionally, try finishing off your shower with cold water for 30 seconds! While maybe not the most pleasant method, it will surely wake you up. While this may seem to create a “fight or flight” reaction, activating it in this simple way will decrease its response in your body and actually increase the “rest and digest” response, in the long term.
Conversely, if a cold shower is too daring right now, splashing cold water on your face is a good start, and is manageable at school, work, and home.
Afterwards, simply ensure that you take a moment to reach a level of comfort again.
Be Noisy / Socialize:
Talking, singing, or humming is a great thing for your vagus nerve as it’s connected to your vocal cords! Humming especially fits the calming effect that you’re looking for, but anything vocal will do.
Due to this, incorporate it into your daily commute, bedtime routine, or wherever you see fit. Don’t be shy!
Generally speaking, meditation features deep breathing and humming. Therefore, this one may be unsurprising! Unique, though, is the positivity in meditation. This is uplifting and calming, and the positivity itself has been show to stimulate the vagus nerve! Everyone should meditate; it does wonders for your mindfulness and health.
Incorporate some of these techniques into your daily life. They’re simple, easy, and can be done wherever you may be. You’ll feel calmer. Your ability will grow. You’ll strengthen your vagus nerve! Simple relaxation is only a few deep breaths away.
At Brainigo, we help you dial down your default speed, so no matter how crazy life gets, you can switch off and bliss out whenever you want. A slower mind and body helps you boost health and energy, and beat stress and anxiety naturally. Click here to read more about how we help you relax!