In this post, I’ll be sharing 5 easy ways to activate your vagus nerve. You don’t need any fancy equipment or an extensive knowledge of anatomy. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort on your part. Vagus nerve activation can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety. The vagus nerve is involved in the body's "rest and digest" response, which helps to counteract the "fight or flight" response that is activated during times of stress and anxiety.
1. Tickle your throat
Sing or hum and you will feel your throat muscles contract and relax. This is because the vagus nerve also regulates the muscles in your larynx and pharynx. Gargle with a mouthful of water. This stimulates the receptors in your throat and larynx, which send signals to the brain that trigger a response from the vagus nerve. Chant a mantra will stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls vocalization. Chew gum or suck on candy. The act of chewing stimulates the vagus nerve and promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation.
2. Stretch it out
One way to stimulate the vagus nerve is through the ear to shoulder stretch. This stretch involves tilting your head to one side so that your ear touches your shoulder, looking with your eyes to the opposite side and holding the stretch for 30 seconds to a few minutes before repeating on the other side. When you perform this stretch, you may feel a slight stretch or tingling sensation in your neck and shoulders. This is because the vagus nerve runs through this area of the body and can be stimulated by the stretch.
3. Cool it down
Applying an ice pack to your chest or dunking your face in cold water can stimulate the vagus nerve, which may have beneficial effects on the body. The vagus nerve is involved in regulating a variety of bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and immune system response.
When the body is exposed to cold, the vagus nerve can be activated, leading to changes in heart rate and blood pressure. This can promote relaxation and a sense of calmness, which may be beneficial for managing stress and anxiety.
4. Massage it
When the ear is massaged, it can stimulate the vagus nerve through a branch called the auricular branch. This can have a calming effect on the body, reducing stress and anxiety levels, and promoting relaxation. It may also have an effect on blood pressure and heart rate, helping to regulate these vital signs. In addition, stimulating the vagus nerve through ear massage has been shown to have potential benefits for a variety of health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Some studies have suggested that it may also have an impact on immune system function, helping to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
5. Find a reason to laugh
When we laugh, the vagus nerve is stimulated and sends signals to various parts of the body, including the heart and lungs, causing them to function differently. This can lead to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as an increase in oxygen levels. In fact, laughter has been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, boosting the immune system, and improving overall mood and wellbeing. So, next time you're feeling stressed or down, try laughing to activate your vagus nerve and experience the positive effects!
Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the effects of vagus nerve activation on anxiety, there are a range of techniques that can be helpful for managing symptoms and promoting relaxation and calmness.