The vagus nerve is essential to feeling a sense of calm.
When the vagus nerve is stimulated, feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin are released, minimizing depression and anxiety.
The vagus nerve is crucial for inducing a sense of calmness. When stimulated, it releases feel-good hormones that combat depression and anxiety. Research suggests that vagus nerve stimulation can be helpful for treating treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A balanced vagal tone is associated with better overall health, while a low tone can lead to cardiovascular diseases and mental health issues. In stressful situations, the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the “fight or flight” response, can become overactive, causing harm to our well-being.
Deep breathing is a powerful tool to stimulate the vagus nerve and decrease the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. It has positive effects on emotional processing, attention, memory recall, and cardiovascular health. Deep breathing can also reduce blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Here are some deep breathing practices to try:
- 4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale for 4 counts through your nose, hold for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts through your mouth.
- Pursed-lip Breathing: Inhale slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through pursed lips, making your exhale 2 to 4 times longer than your inhale.
- Box Breathing: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts.
- Ocean Breathing: Inhale for 5 counts, hold for 3 counts, and exhale for 7 counts while making the “ha” sound.
Let me know what you feel and if there is anything you’ve practiced and found useful.