Below are a few vagal activation techniques that you can use to calm your nervous system and allow for learning and relief. Additional products I recommend are available under Resources.
To create a greater vagal tone, relaxation, and slowing of unwanted responses, reach out to Piper for scheduling.
What Is The Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve is a crucial element in your body's ability to relax and calm down after experiencing stress. It's one of the largest nerves - starting from your brain, running through your neck, and going all the way to your abdomen. This nerve controls vital functions such as digestion, heart rate, and immune response.
Think of it like this: When you're stressed, your body goes into a "fight or flight" mode, handled mainly by another part of your nervous system. This is when you feel your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your breath quickening. The vagus nerve belongs to a different part of your nervous system, which calms your body down from this high-alert state.
When the vagus nerve isn't toned, it can lead to a multitude of issues in several systems of the body:
Digestive system: The vagus nerve regulates the digestive process. A weak vagal tone can result in digestive issues, such as bloating, indigestion, and constipation. It can also lead to slower metabolic functioning and inadequate absorption of nutrients[1%5E].
Cardiovascular system: The vagus nerve plays a pivotal role in heart rate control. Poor vagal tone might result in rapid heart rate and blood pressure issues, causing undue strain on the heart[2%5E].
Respiratory system: Though not as direct as other systems, the vagus nerve impacts our respiratory system through its influence on our heart rate and anxiety levels, which can affect our breathing rate[3%5E].
Immune system: The vagus nerve has anti-inflammatory properties, and if it's not well-toned, the body may have a harder time regulating inflammation. This could potentially lead to an overly reactive immune system and persistent inflammation4.
Endocrine system: The vagus nerve also impacts our hormonal balance. A decrease in vagal tone can dysregulate the hormonal equilibrium of the body, elevating cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and disrupting various bodily functions, from sleep to metabolism[5%5E].
These issues are often related to chronic stress, anxiety, and trauma, conditions that keep the body in a perpetual "fight or flight" mode in the sympathetic nervous state, inhibiting the parasympathetic (rest and digest) functions performed by a well-toned vagus nerve[6%5E].
Therefore, in our sessions at Untangled Mind LLC, I use methods that stimulate, or "activate," your vagus nerve. What this does is essentially support your body in calming down after stress, easing you out of alert mode, and into a state of relaxation. This is not just helpful in the short-term, but with regular practice, it can help you become better at managing stress, understanding your emotions, and overall, feeling calmer and happier. It's like giving your self-control mechanisms a little boost, aimed at helping you function better and feel good!
Vagus Nerve in Immune System Regulation](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082307/) ↩
Follow the box breathing to allow for deep, stress-relieving breath.
Listen to the sensory grounding exercise.