Vagal Nerve: Key stress-busting secrets shared

  • An unusual way to keep calm and positive in the face of adversity
  •  Revealed, how to stimulate your stress-busting nerve system
  •  The hidden benefits of gargling, singing and saying “OMMMMMMMMMM”

Today I want to intrioduce you to the Vagal Nerve.

It’s one of twelve pairs of nerves called the Cranial Nerves because they do not enter the spinal cord.

The Vagal Nerve is often considered to be the most important of these nerves, and I want to show you what it can do to help you.

Let me put all of this neurology into a more practical context though…

When the pandemic was raging in 2020, I remember thinking…

“I can’t wait until this is over and everything goes back to normal.”

But now here we are in Autumn 2022…

It feels like the pandemic is the least of our worries.

And things are far from normal.

As I wrote last weekend, there is a lot for people to be worried about.

Soaring prices of food…

Eye-watering petrol prices…

Astronomical household energy bills…

Alas, I cannot do anything about the above, much as I wish I could wave a magic wand.

I’ve been feeling pretty helpless, if I’m honest.

I don’t have much to offer the world, other than my love of food, nutrition and natural health.

So the best I can do is help my readers find ways to stay as healthy, strong and positive as possible through whatever comes our way.

Recently, I’ve suggested a few things that might help this autumn.

That includes using a whole food multi-boost supplement to make sure you’re topped up with nutrients (read about it here: LINK).

Another is to have a salt inhaler handy to keep your airways clear of respiratory infections (you can see that here [LINK]).

But today I want to write about a topic I’ve not covered before in this newsletter.

It’s all about lowering stress…

However, it has nothing to do with better sleep or improving your mental attitude or going for walks…

And nothing to do with food either!

Rather, it’s a way you can stimulate a little-known nerve system in your body that helps control your stress.

An unusual way to keep calm in the face of adversity

You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response, which I’ve written about many times before.

It’s when your body kicks into action when you feel any sense of danger, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your system.

But if we keep releasing these hormones, too regularly, they can do a lot of damage, causing insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and gut inflammation.

Ok, so that’s the old news…

What you might not realise is that there’s a nerve system in your body that can lower your fight or flight response.

Known as the parasympathetic nervous system, it controls the ‘rest and digest’ functions in your body.

Primarily, it uses the vagus nerves, which run from your brain to your large intestine. You have one of these nerves on the left of your body, and the other on the right.

They control involuntary functions like these:

  • Digestion
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing
  • Immune system responses
  • Mood
  • Mucus and saliva production
  • Skin and muscle sensations
  • Speech
  • Taste

If you have problems with these nerves it can lead to abdominal pain, acid reflux, increased blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

So if you’ve been experiencing any of these and the doctor cannot yet figure out why, this could be one thing to look into.

However, I want to focus on one aspect of the Vagal Nerve – and that’s its positive effect on stress.

When these nerves are working really well, they can help reduce the fight or flight response, lowering your heart rate and reducing digestive problems.

Which is why many people across the world are now seeking ways to stimulate the vagus nerve system.

If that sounds a bit “eeeuuw”, please relax, it’s actually quite fun…

How to stimulate your stress-busting nerve system

One of the best ways to stimulate your Vagal Nerves is through a good old belly laugh.

I’m serious!

Really big heavy belly laughs really do the trick – so if you can find a few friends and watch a really funny film it could do you a lot of good.

The other main way to do it is through deep, slow breathing and focus intently on the rhythms of those breaths.

Make sure you breathe from your abdomen, expanding your lower rib cage as you inhale. Also make sure that your ‘out breath’ is longer than your ‘in breath’.

There are some other, far more unusual methods too:

  • Gargle loudly with some water
  • Sing VERY loudly
  • Chant ‘om’ in a long, drawn out, deep note, like a yoga adept
  • Dip your face in icy water
  • Get a foot massage

All five of these activities genuinely stimulate the Vagal Nerve!

As a result, you could lower your heart rate, reduce the stress response, switch on your immune system and aid your digestive system.

Once you’ve done that, perhaps reward yourself with a few squares of dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains high levels of a compound called theobromine which detunes the nerves that make us cough, which includes the vagus.

In fact, if you have a persistent cough, try all of these techniques once per day and you might find it helps!

Anyway, I hope this information helps… even just a tiny bit… to help reduce your stress in the coming weeks and months.