by Bhanu Joy Harrison, LCSW, SEP
Our lives are running at warp speed! Many people experience stress symptoms like poor sleep, digestive upset, increased pain, cardiac stress, emotional upset and relationship struggles.
The vagus nerve is one of the main regulators of our “rest and digest”, parasympathetic response. When it’s active, we digest smoothly, rest our bodies, interact socially and feel more settled. New research shows how critical the vagus is for many functions such as reducing inflammation, normalizing immune function, improving gut health and balancing emotions.
When we are in our “fight, flight or freeze” stress or trauma modes, we miss the benefits. Practicing these vagal toning skills can relax our bodies, slow down our minds and bring care to our hearts. Try them (5x day for the greatest benefit):
- Take some deep breaths, making the exhales a bit longer. The vagus enervates the heart and lungs making our breath a powerful tool for regulation.
- Imagine your body has a speedometer. Are you cruising at 30mph or racing at 90? What is your optimal speed for the activity at hand? Imagine your body coming to that optimal speed, slowing down or speeding up as needed. Feel the shift…
- Let your body sink fully into your chair. Notice your muscles soften. Take 3 deep breaths.
- Sing! Singing combines longer exhales and vibration in the neck, stimulating the vagus nerve.
My body really relaxes in Bhanu’s classes and I learn practical tools to use immediately. It’s a win-win for all of me! K.J., AB