The vagus nerve is the primary nerve of the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system and it starts at the stem of your brain, runs down through your face, neck, chest & abdomen, supplying both your voice box and your digestive system with nerves.
It is key for health and wellbeing because it calms the body down after periods of stress. And the great news is we can help it to do this better!
Strong “vagal tone” (i.e. the nerve doing its job well) has the benefits of:
- calming us quicker;
- better regulating our blood sugar levels and inflammation in the body; and
- reducing our risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke
Sound good? Thankfully there are lots of simple little things you can do to increase vagal tone:
- release tension in your neck and jaw (have a look at the videos in the members library or purchasing the my mobility library separately if you’re looking for ideas);
- practise breathing techniques that calm the system and lengthen your exhale. Think low and slow! And meditation techniques that calm the mind and body;
- hum, sing, chant (particularly om) or even gargle (think back to the nerve’s connection to your voice box/larynx);
- sudden exposure to cold (e.g. cold showers, open water swimming or even splashing your face with cold water);
- look after your gut health (again think back to the nerve’s connection to your digestive system, as well as the fact that 90-95% of the body’s serotonin, or happy hormones, are produced in the gut);
- laugh; and
- exercise at appropriate levels and intensity (as overtraining will actually reduce your vagal tone).
So take a few minutes today to help your vagus nerve to help you.