Stimulating the Vagus Nerve for Optimal Well-Being
Updated: Sep 25
Improve Your Mood and Overall Well-Being with Vagus Nerve Stimulation Techniques
Have you ever experienced a feeling of calm and relaxation after a deep breath, a yoga class, or a good laugh? These moments of calm and relaxation are thanks to the vagus nerve, one of the most important nerves in our body. This nerve, sometimes referred to as the "wandering" nerve, controls several critical bodily functions, including digestion, heart rate, and breathing. Stanley Rosenberg, a craniosacral therapist, explains in his book "Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve" that the vagus nerve is also essential in regulating our emotional and mental states
The vagus nerve regulates several functions, including digestion, heart rate, and breathing, but it also plays a critical role in our mental health and overall well-being.
The vagus nerve is a complex nerve that runs from the brainstem through the neck and chest and down to the abdomen. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling the body's "rest and digest" response. When activated, the vagus nerve can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and improve overall mental health.
When you stimulate the vagus nerve, you are essentially practicing mindfulness and reconnecting with your inner self.
Vagus nerve stimulation is an effective way to promote mental and physical health. Here are some practical ways to stimulate the vagus nerve:
Deep breathing: Slow, deep breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation. Try taking a few deep breaths, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then exhaling slowly.
Meditation: Regular meditation has been shown to increase vagal tone, which is the measure of the strength and responsiveness of the vagus nerve. This can lead to improved mood, decreased anxiety, and better overall mental health.
Yoga: Certain yoga asanas, such as the fish pose or the bridge pose, can stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can support better mental and physical health.
Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to increase vagal tone and promote better mental health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling.
Laughter: Laughter has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation. Watch a funny movie or spend time with friends who make you laugh to promote better mental health.
Cold exposure: Cold exposure, such as taking a cold shower or immersing your face in cold water, can stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation.
Singing or chanting: Singing or chanting can stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation. Try singing or chanting a mantra, hymn, or song that resonates with you.
Rosenberg offers a basic way to reset your vagus nerve. In this exercise, Rosenberg says the reason you move your eyes is there is a “direct neurological connection between the eight suboccipital muscles and the muscles that move our eyeballs.”
The Basic Exercise
Lie on back
Interweave fingers on both hands and place them behind the head
Without turning your head, look to the right
Remain here until you spontaneously yawn or swallow
Return to the neutral state with head and eyes straight
Repeat on the other side
In conclusion, the vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating many functions in our body, including our mental health. Stimulating the vagus nerve through techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, laughter, cold exposure, and singing or chanting can promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can support better mental and physical health and experience the power of the "nerve that heals."