The vagus nerve has a huge influence on your mind, body, and emotions. If you’re dealing with anxiety, or even the stresses of daily life, knowing how to activate your vagus nerve can help you decrease your overall stress and anxiety.
In this article, I am delving into the role of the vagus nerve, often known as – the “nerve of harmony,” how it impacts your overall well-being, and how to activate it to manage anxiety.
But first, here’s a reel I filmed for Instagram about the vagus nerve:
Do you keep hearing about this mysterious thing called the vagus nerve?
Is everyone talking about the vagus nerve or am I living in a bubble of anxiety therapists?
So many of you are dealing with anxiety. And giving your vagus nerve some love can help. I’m gonna tell you how.
The vagus nerve is really big. It connects your brain and your body. The more active it is, the more relaxed you are.
Okay, here is the best news of all. It is so easy to keep your vagus nerve activated:
- Breathing exercises
All of these things stimulate the vagus nerve.
I have a resource to help you shift yourself into relaxation. It’s called the “Anxious Artist’s 1-Minute Mindset Shift” (because I love to name things that make me fall all over my words, apparently!). And you can grab it at ballardphd.com/mindset .
It’s free. Because I want you to be free of anxiety!
Bye friends. Oh, look a squirrel. Can you see it? He wants the bird seed. I don’t think you can see it. Okay. Okay, bye.”
(Another article you may find helpful if you are dealing with anxiety and panic is: “9 Tips for Coping with Panic Attacks“)
OK, on to the article I wrote!
Understanding the Vagus Nerve’s Significance
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body. It is the vital communication pathway between your brain and the rest of your body, influencing the functioning of your heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines. The two-way connection of the vagus nerve regulates involuntary bodily functions. So, it is a crucial part of your autonomic nervous system.
The Mind-Body Connection
The vagus nerve influences how relaxed you feel, by triggering the release of acetylcholine, a calming neurotransmitter. This release helps lower heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. On the flip side, a less active vagus nerve can contribute to increased anxiety, inflammation, and an exaggerated stress response.
Not surprisingly, the vagus nerve strongly influences your emotional well-being. Through connections with brain regions involved in emotional regulation, such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the vagus nerve helps modulate your emotional responses. A healthy vagal tone promotes emotional resilience and faster recovery from stressful situations.
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve
If you practice effective techniques to stimulate the vagus nerve, you can enhance its functioning and tone. Fortunately, maintaining a healthy vagus nerve is simple and easy!
Practices like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, humming, singing, and laughter all activate and stimulate the vagus nerve. The is the science behind “Laughter is the best medicine”!
Hum and sing whenever you want, laugh it up, and incorporate some breathing exercises into your routine. If you add yoga and meditation, you will almost certainly notice a difference in your overall well-being.
An activated vagus nerve fosters well-being in your mind, body, and emotions. By understanding its significance and incorporating vagus nerve-stimulating practices into your life, you can promote relaxation, manage anxiety, and enjoy a healthier state of being.
The link again to my free resource for an exercise that will help activate your vagus nerve is “Anxious Artist’s 1-Minute Mindset Shift”, which breaks down a simple three-step technique to shift out of anxiety.