5 Quick Ways to Calm the Vegas Nerve
The Vagus nerve is the longest in the body, connecting your brain to all your vital organs. It is part of the parasympathetic “rest & digest” nervous system, impacting your breathing, digestion, heart rate, and mental health. Just humming or buzzing like a bee can bring attention to the “tone” of your Vagas nerve.
Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Having a higher tone means that your body can relax faster after it encounters a stressful situation. This can be an essential and practical tool to heal from trauma. The most distressing symptoms of trauma are felt in the body, keeping the body always alert, leading to chronic exhaustion.
When we experience a threat (real or perceived), we change how we breathe. In the animal kingdom, prey animals might pass out or act dead to avoid being eaten by a predator. After the animal uses this defense, they will release the stress hormone they just used to stay alive. However, humans aren’t able to “release” stress as quickly. We often stay at a high level of activation (flight response) without an opportunity to process the traumatic event. This leads to an increase in symptoms related to trauma such as anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance.
In my personal practice, I hum for 5 minutes of my meditation practice. It helps me reduce anxiety and bring me back into my body after any situation that triggers my fight or flight response. Humming automatically forces you to extend your breath, and the vibration of sound is also calming the body. This is an easy way to work with your nervous system rather than feel trapped by it.
5 Quick Ways to Calm the Vagas Nerve
- Take slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breaths.
- Hum or laugh.
- Run cold water over your hands or take a cold shower.
- Meditation helps you focus on deeper breathing. Loving Kindness or Metta meditation also promotes feelings of goodwill towards self and others.
- Move. Any mind-body therapy can help, even just standing up and shaking your body