Do you feel like you’re constantly under pressure? Finding it difficult to relax? Unfortunately, stress is one of the leading causes of illness in the world today, so finding new ways to decrease our stress levels can always be beneficial.
If you are looking for ways to manage your stress that don’t require medication, read on. There is a nerve in your body that you can use to help lowering stress levels! I am going to discuss what that nerve is and some ways to activate it to help you engage your relaxation response.
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body! It starts at the base of your brain and extends all the way down to your abdomen. This nerve is responsible for a variety of functions, including:
Because the vagus nerve is connected to so many different body parts, it is sometimes referred to as the “wandering nerve.”
Now that we know a little bit more about the vagus nerve, let’s discuss how it can help lower our stress levels. When stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This is a survival mechanism that dates back to when we were living in caves and had to worry about being attacked by wild animals! In this state, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, your breathing becomes shallow, and you release stress hormones like cortisol. While this response is excellent if you are actually in danger, it can be harmful if you are constantly in a state of stress (like many of us are!).
The vagus nerve is one way your body tells your brain to calm down. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it signals to the brain that everything is okay and there is no need to activate the “fight or flight” response. This can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure and decrease the production of stress hormones.
There are a few simple ways to stimulate the nerve.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but fortunately, we have ways to reduce it. The vagus nerve is one of the most critical nerves in the body for health and stress relief. Understanding how it works and knowing some simple ways to stimulate it may help lower your stress levels and improve your overall quality of life.