The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, connecting the brain to the body and along the way, it passes through a lot of the body’s organs and plays a role in nearly every major system in the body. In addition is is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part. It helps the body to manage inflammation, depression, migraines and more.
Vagal tone is measured by heart-rate vs breathing rate. The bigger the difference between your inhalation heart-rate and your exhalation heart-rate, the higher your vagal tone. Higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress. There are many problems caused when vagus nerve function deteriorates including digestive issues, mood disorders, and chronic inflammation. Which then follows that stimulating the vagus nerve can improve many health conditions and we can do this by:
- Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing.
- Reflexology/foot massage
- Neck massage.
- Hum a tune or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’.
- Speaking, laughing.
- Washing your face with cold water.
- Balance the gut microbiome.
The great news is that these simple ways of increasing your vagal tone can have such a big impact on overall health.