WHAT TF IS THE VAGUS NERVE?
The Vagus nerve is basically the queen of the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest. The more stimulation we give it, the more we reduce cortisol levels and offset the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the body that directs rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations.
We want to achieve a homeostasis within our autonomic nervous system, the part of the body that regulates bodily functions like heart rate, digestion, urination and sexual arousal or the Flight or Fight response. Unfortunately the way of our modern life is causing our evolutionary biology to short-circuit by throwing our whole nervous system out of balance.
A healthy vagal tone has seen a surge in research because of this imbalance.
Here are 7 ways to stimulate your vagus nerve
In bio hacking terms, cold therapy refers to the use of cold temperatures to elicit positive physiological responses, such as improving mitochondrial health through a process called mitochondrial biogenesis aka producing more of them.
It also forces us to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, which is much mental as it is a physical practice. Studies have shown
A simple way to start using cold therapy is to end your regular shower with 30 seconds of straight cold water. Or for those wanting to go balls deep, slap two bags of ice in a tub and dive in!
There have been many many benefits claimed by cold therapy including calming itchy skin, waking you up, increasing circulation, reducing muscle soreness post-workout, potentially boosting weight loss, and glowing hair and skin.
I will be adding cold showers to my daily routine and I’ll let you know how it goes! If you’re doing it as well, please leave a comment and let me know how it’s helped you!
In a 65 person study, participants were told to sit and focus their thoughts on positivity towards others. This resulted in increases in vagal tone, an effect mediated by increased perceptions of social connections.
Meditation has been proven to rewire your brain and increase focus, keep your brain young, mitigate stress, and create an overall healthy body and mind.
After four months of mindful meditation practice, 35 test subjects showed higher levels of brain connectivity and lowered inflammation. Both signs are indication of a healthier vagal tone.
I’ve been meditating every morning and it just sets you up for an amazing day.
By far one of the fastest and easiest ways to activate the vagus nerve is by applying strategic breathing practices. One of these breathing techniques is called box breathing and here is how it is done.
Whilst breathing in, expand the belly, then the diaphragm, then your upper chest. When you exhale, let the breath go from the upper chest, then ribcage, then the belly. Both inhalation and exhalation should be done through the nose, stimulating nerves to activate that parasympathetic nervous system discussed earlier.
Inhale for a count of 5
Hold breath for another 5
Exhale all the breath in a count of 5
Retain and hold the breath for another count of five
Repeat with 1 – 3 minute drills several times a day working your way up to 5 – 10 minutes
When we laugh, we stimulate diaphragmatic breathing thus activating the parasympathetic nervous system and triggers the “tend-and-befriend” response linked to a healthy vagal tone.
SINGING AND CHANTING
The simple act of singing and chanting activates your vocal chords but also activates the muscles at the back of your throat leading to increased heart rate variability. This increase stimulates your vagus nerve quite well.
One study showed that a single hour of aerobic, moderate-intensity exercise that minimized physiological metabolic stress (swimming) modulated the innate immune responses to bacterial endotoxin showing proof of vagal tone stimulation.