You can enjoy the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation naturally by following these steps:
1. Cold Exposure
Acute cold exposure has been shown to activate the vagus nerve. Researchers have also found that exposing yourself to cold on a regular basis can lower your sympathetic “fight or flight” response and increase parasympathetic activity through the vagus nerve. I often take cold showers and go outside in cold temperatures with minimal clothing. Try finishing your next shower with at least 30 seconds of cold water and see how you feel. Then work your way up to longer periods of time. You can also ease yourself into it by simply sticking your face in ice-cold water.
2. Deep and Slow Breathing
Deep and slow breathing is another way to stimulate your vagus nerve. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety and increase the parasympathetic system by activating the vagus nerve. Taking about 6 breaths over the course of a minute is a great way to relieve stress. You should breathe in deeply from your diaphragm. When you do this, your stomach should expand outward. Your exhale should be long and slow. This is key to stimulating the vagus nerve and reaching a state of relaxation.
3. Singing, Humming, Chanting and Gargling
The vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat. Singing, humming, chanting and gargling can activate these muscles and stimulate your vagus nerve. And this has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and vagal tone
It’s becoming increasingly clear to researchers that gut bacteria improve brain function by affecting the vagus nerve.
Meditation can stimulate the vagus nerve and increase vagal tone. Research shows that meditation increases vagal tone and positive emotions, and promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself. Other research has found that meditation reduces sympathetic “fight or flight” activity and increases vagal modulation.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself. They are found primarily in fish and are necessary for the normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system. They often appear in most of my posts because they are so critical for brain and mental health and affect so many aspects of wellness. They’ve been shown to help people overcome addiction, repair a “leaky brain”, and even reverse cognitive decline. But researchers have also discovered that omega-3 fatty acids increase vagal tone and vagal activity.
Exercise has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, which may explain its beneficial brain and mental health effects
Research shows that massages can stimulate the vagus nerve, and increase vagal activity and vagal tone. The vagus nerve can also be stimulated by massaging several specific areas of the body.Foot massages (reflexology) have been shown to increase vagal modulation and heart rate variability, and decrease the “fight or flight” sympathetic response.
9. Socialising and Laughing
Socialising and laughing can reduce your body’s main stress hormone. Laughter has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and improve mood. And vagus nerve stimulation often leads to laughter as a side effect, suggesting that they are connected and influence one another.