Helping others infuse harmony into their every day living.

Stressed? Vagus to the Rescue!

Stressed? Vagus to the Rescue!

What does being stressed and vagus have in common? Are you wondering who or what is Vagus? Well, there is a little known nerve that sets and turns off the call for alarm in the body. This is our vagus nerve. It’s an internal highway sending messages to and from the brain. The vagus extends from two thick stems within the cerebellum and brainstem and travels through our core to the belly or gut. The vagus nerve is the generator of gut feeling or instinct, making it potentially the most important nerve in our body. Along its path, it touches the heart and most most major organs. For example, the vagus is responsible for keeping the larynx open for breathing and feeding the lungs and diaphragm.
Because we don’t even know about our vagus, we often ignore its messages and override this important system with daily busyness.

Life brings us into encounter with multiple stressors over the period of a day. The good news is our body gives us the tools to deal with stressors. Those stressors could be anything from congested traffic, illness, job stress, incoming bills, to relationship difficulty. An alarm goes off in the brain that something is wrong and it sends stress chemicals to give us strength to deal with the threat. Yet long after the bill is paid or
the public speech is completed, the stress alarm that was set off continues to ring in the background. This disturbs our inner and outer balance. So it’s good to know that peace of mind can be just a breath away. Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve bringing balance between the parasympathetic (calming system) and sympathetic (revving system) nervous systems.

The first step is to turn off our natural alarm system once the stress is dealt with or when it’s just a false alarm. Focused breathing does this by stimulating the vagus nerve and activating our reset button. This can be done medically with an expensive surgical implant, or we can do it naturally by retraining our vagus through breath exercises.

Deep Breathing enhances the oxygen in our blood stream, slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Exercise: breath deeply in and out the nose into the diaphragm, gradually slowing down the breath with the exhale longer than the inhale for several minutes.

Chanting – vibrations experienced from chanting out loud stimulate the vagus nerve and creates limbic deactivation (versus in depression where there is limbic hyperactivation). Studies have been conducted showing success in healing depression and epilepsy by chanting the word “OM”.
Soften your jaw – When the jaw is tight we breath shallowly. By contrast when open it allows for deeper breathing and greater relaxation. areas and mentally relax them as well.

Exercise – lie on your stomach, with your head to the side most comfortable for you. Focus on relaxing your jaw by dropping it toward your neck little by little.

All of these exercises will tone your vagus nerve, creating a greater sense of overall well being. A toned vagus leads to a happy you!

Darlene Nazaire

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