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Brain Hack Vagus Nerve

Not to be confused with the thrills and spills of Las Vegas, a little less glamourous but just as exciting. One of the most important nerves in the body when it comes to restoring psychological and physiological balance is the vagus nerve.

The word “vagus” means wandering in Latin. This is entirely appropriate as the vagus nerve runs from your brain stem to the lowest part of your abdomen, touching your heart and most major organs along the way.

By engaging and stimulating the vagus nerve, you can improve your “vagal tone”.

The higher your vagal tone the better your psychological and physiological well-being.

In contrast, a low vagal tone is associated with inflammation, depression, negative moods, loneliness and poor health.

When the vagus nerve is stimulated you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, your “rest and digest” or “relaxation response”.

So people ask me, “How can I do this? Do I need to take a pill? Can I buy it? What’s involved? It can’t be easy. How much does it cost?”

And I say to them… “Just breathe”.

After a few doubtful and quizzical looks we get down to the nitty-gritty of diaphragmatic breathing. The pattern, the pace and the sequence of the breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing or slow abdominal breathing is something you can do anytime and anywhere to instantly stimulate your vagus nerve and lower stress responses. This breath will not only calm your “flight, fight, freeze” response but it will improve your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.

Then people say “I don’t have time for long routines or meditation! I’m too busy!” Then I say “Well, how about one minute? Could you find just one minute in your busy day?”

The response is usually “Well, yes, I think I can manage a minute…or two.”

I say “That’s perfect, let me show you how you can stop stress, anxiety and low mood in its tracks.


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