11 strategies that you can use to stimulate your Vagus nerve and to promote a more restful parasympathetic state
Following on from my previous article (http://www.naturopathichealthcarecentre.co.za/.../how-to...) where we discussed the workings of the parasympathetic nervous system, here are a few strategies to help restore the balance.
Here are 11 strategies that you can use to stimulate your Vagus nerve and to promote a more restful parasympathetic state:
1) Breathwork- diaphragmatic breathing
Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your stomach expand, and when you exhale, your stomach should go back down. This is also known as “belly breathing.” This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
Community and belonging help you to feel safe and secure. When you are connected, you are calmer and more positive.
3) Diving Reflex
To stimulate the diving reflex, you need cold exposure. You can splash cold water on your face or put ice cubes in a ziploc bag against it. According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body.”
4) Humming, Singing or Gargling
Don’t you always feel better when you start to hum or sing? Your worries are swept away by a song. Well, that’s because it’s activating your vagus nerve! Simply sing to feel better or gargle if you prefer.
It is clear to researchers that gut bacteria improve brain function by activating the vagus nerve.”
6) Omega 3 Fatty Acids
You can get these from fish oil, or if you’re a vegan, you can find them in chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seed oil and walnuts.
7) Mindfulness and Meditation
According to a study, Loving-Kindness-Meditation created a healthy vagal tone in participants. Check out this guide for how to do this mediation here, and know that mindfulness in general is a way to activate your vagus nerve as well. Being present centers you.
Yoga is a parasympathetic activation exercise that helps with digestion, blood flow and more.
9) ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)
ASMR sends “tingles” from your scalp down your spine and helps calm your nervous system with the use of triggers or tools. This entails whispering, scratching, tapping and other noises that pull you into a trance. There are many on Youtube.
10) ‘OM’ Chanting
If you want to activate your vagus nerve, a great way to do it is by chanting “OM” over and over again. This is often used in yoga, mantras and different faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether you perceive it as a spiritual practice or just a meditation practice, it helps to calm you and create inner peace. Studies have shown that this creates greater relaxation.
11) Positive Self-Talk
Christopher Bergland says he uses Cora Harris’s mantra to stimulate his vagus nerve, “The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.”
This produces positive self-talk even when you are feeling afraid.
Dr Marike de Klerk