The vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and is one of the most important nerves in the body. The vagus nerve helps to regulate many critical aspects of human physiology, including the heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, digestion. It tells the brain what’s going on in our organs, most specially the digestive tract (stomach and intestines), lungs and heart, spleen, liver and kidneys, not to mention a range of other nerves that are involved in everything from talking to eye contact to facial expressions and even your ability to tune in to other people’s voices.
Learning to care for the autonomic nervous system is essential. Regulating your vagus nerve can reduce stress, restore stability, and care for your body. If you are feeling fatigue, anxiety, digestive issues, food sensitivities, or you feel depressed, have brain fog, or feel despondent, the vagus nerve is always affected.
How to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
Belly vs chest breathing
Inhale very slowly through your nose, while consciously filling up your lungs from the bottom to the top until you can't suck in an iota more of oxygen. Then slowly begin releasing the air through pursed lips as if you are trying to systematically blow out 100 candles on a birthday cake, while constricting your abs as if doing an abdominal crunch. Hold your hand up to your lips to feel the air being released.
Slow down breath
Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing during which you visualize filling up the lower part of your lungs just above your belly button like a balloon and then exhaling slowly stimulates your vagus nerve, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, and improves your heart rate variability.
As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. It increases beta-endorphins and also release oxytocin and serotonin, which are stress relieving hormones vital to our well-being. You Tube is a great resource for great comedy skits from the likes of Groucho Marx,Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, Jonathan Winters,Charlie Chaplin…..
Take a cold shower
I know a cold shower sounds like torture but it is effective. Traditionally what’s called a “hot and cold plunge” where you sit in hot water then in a cold plunge for 5 minutes each or even putting your face in ice water for 20 seconds and repeating it 5-10 times also are very effective in vagal stimulation.