Did you know that stimulating your vagus nerve can help reduce stress?
Stimulating the vagus nerve has been found to be a powerful way to combat the prolonged chronic stress. The vagus nerve is a large nerve that connects the brainstem with various organs throughout the body, and it plays an important role in regulating stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
The good news is that you can easily stimulate vagus nerve function with various exercises you can do right at home to rebalance to the body’s autonomic nervous system and provide relief from chronic high levels of stress.
But you deserve to feel good!
That's why I'm sharing these 10 potent methods to stimulate vagus nerve function and improve your overall wellbeing.
Find out with my "Healing with Sound" Mini Course: 100% Free. No Credit Card Needed.
Discover how healing with sound can easily restore wellbeing and peace of mind—in minutes.
Get free lifetime access to a potent daily sound healing exercise to erase stress, silence racing thoughts and restore your peace of mind in minutes.
If you're looking for a way to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, try stimulating your vagus nerve through deep and slow breathing.
Most people take around 10 to 14 breaths per minute, but slowing down to about 6 breaths per minute can activate the parasympathetic system and promote relaxation.
To do this, breathe deeply from your diaphragm, allowing your stomach to expand outward. Exhale slowly and steadily, focusing on the sensation of your breath leaving your body.
This technique can help stimulate the vagus nerve and promote a state of calm.
You might also try this guided breathing exercise I made for you:
One way to activate the vagus nerve is through pressure massages, which have been shown to help increase heart rate variability in a 2020 study. Reflexology has also been found to increase vagal activity and heart rate variability while lowering heart rate and blood pressure, according to this 2011 study.
Try these acupressure exercises from The Cleveland Clinic:
This ancient yogic technique is among the most researched sound methods that support an array of health conditions and that stimulate vagus nerve function.
This 2018 systematic review from the Journal of Traditional and complementary medicine on this humming technique describes the benefits of this technique including:
Here's guided audio that explains how to do it:
Even an absolute beginner can get the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation by doing a simple yoga practice.
Stimulating the vagus nerve through yogic breathing techniques and movement practices has been found to have a positive impact on various bodily functions, including the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Additionally, these practices have been shown to lead positive to changes in immune function and emotional well-being in this 2017 study.
Here's a 30 minute beginner lesson you can try!
Entering a mindful state where you are fully present in this moment can be enhanced through long slow deep breaths. Fortunately, those long breaths are one of the best ways to stimulate the vagal nerve.
In this video, I'll show you a potent technique I call Brain Tapping that can make meditation easier by helping you quiet your thoughts. In it, we'll use a simple tapping rhythm and guided slow breathing. This one is also fantastic to use right before bed.
Recent research has shown that certain activities, such as reflecting on positive social connections and laughing, can stimulate the vagus nerve and improve mood. In fact, vagus nerve stimulation has been found to often lead to laughter as a side effect, suggesting a strong connection between the two. So, if you're looking to boost your mood and improve your overall health, try engaging in activities that stimulate the vagus nerve, such as spending time with loved ones and finding reasons to laugh.
Caution, watching these babies laugh is highly addictive :)
According this 2013 study, positive emotions and thoughts like compassion can positively affect the vagus nerve and overall nervous system by increasing vagal tone—a measure of resilience to stress.
The study states: "Participants in the intervention group increased in positive emotions relative to those in the control group, an effect moderated by baseline vagal tone, a proxy index of physical health. Increased positive emotions, in turn, produced increases in vagal tone, an effect mediated by increased perceptions of social connections."
Check out this helpful explanation about compassion from renowned teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:
Another vagal tone booster, according to this 2021 research is to adjust your eating times using a method called intermittent fasting.
Here's some great information about how to go about trying intermittent fasting from our friend Jillian Michaels:
Splashing your face with cold water and cold showers have been shown to increase in cardiac-vagal activation in this 2018 study.
This is another method that helps increase heart rate variability and thus increase vagal tone. Be advised that you should always check with your doctor to make sure you're healthy enough for cold exposure—especially if you have heart issues.
Here's a quick explanation from on of the masters of cold exposure Wim Hof:
We all know exercise is good for us, but it also plays a big role in helping to stimulate vagus nerve activity by switching your nervous system out of stress and into relaxation.
Try it for yourself and enjoy this quick 10 minute beginner friendly workout from Jillian Michaels:
There is emerging evidence that some probiotic strains may help people with anxiety and depression through through the vagus nerve / gut-brain axis.
Great sources of food based probiotics include:
Here's some great information from The Mayo Clinic about probiotics:
Stimulate vagus nerve activity using one or more of the ideas above and yu be doing your immediate and long term health a big favor.
The more regularly you use the healing abilities within your body the better able you are to regulate your own stress especially during challenging times.
Remember, take better care of yourself than you think you should!
Be well, Jim
Introduction to Healing with Sound: A Comprehensive Guide Discover the power of healing with sound! This comprehensive guide teaches you how to effectively use sound therapy to restore balance and health.
Healing the Body with Frequencies: The Basics Explained
Discover the secrets of healing your body with frequencies! This guide covers the basics of frequency healing and how to use it for better health and wellness.
Benefits of Vagus Nerve Exercises & 7 Simple Practices
Harness the power of the Vagus Nerve to improve health and wellbeing in a few simple steps! Discover what exercises you need to do, and why they are important.
Vagus Nerve Exercises for Stress and Anxiety Relief
Vagus Nerve exercises have been shown to ease stress and anxiety. Discover what the vagus nerve does, the latest research, and eight free vagus nerve exercises.
Music Healing for Stress, Anxiety and Pain
Music has been used as an effective tool to help people cope with anxiety, pain, stress, and more. Discover research and 7 tips for how music healing works.
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve for Better Sleep, Stress Relief & Health
The vagus nerve has been shown to be effective in treating insomnia, stress relief, anxiety, and mood. Learn 12 easy exercises for stimulation of vagus nerve.
The Absolute Beginners Guide to Sound Healing Explore the therapeutic benefits of sound healing with this easy-to-follow beginner's guide! Discover how to use sound to positively impact your body and mind.
The Power of Frequency Healing - Simple Tips & Techniques: Ready to explore frequency healing? Check out this helpful guide for steps on how to add it into your regular routine and start seeing results.
The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only and any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your physician. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or condition.
Copyright © 2021-2023 by Blue Beat Media. Thank you for your interest in Jim Donovan/Jim Donovan Music. We do not allow republication of our full newsletters and articles. However, you can post a portion (no more than 90 words, 1-2 paragraphs) of our content with a live link back to our homepage, donovanhealth.com, or a link to the specific article you are quoting from.
About the author:
Jim Donovan M.Ed. is a multi-platinum musician, educator and TEDx speaker.
His mission is to share the restorative power of music through education and performance.
Donovan is an Assistant Professor and Director of Music and Wellness at Saint Francis University.
His viral TEDx Talk "How to Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep" has been viewed over 6 million times to date.
He currently performs with his band The Sun King Warriors who can best described as as a blend of rhythm heavy roots rock, with a strong dose of big barreling drums.
Jim Donovan got his start as a founding member of the multi-platinum selling band Rusted Root.
There he co-wrote the song “Send Me on My Way” featured in the movies "Ice Age", "Matilda" and the Netflix series "New Girl".
During his time with the band 1990-2005, he recorded and released seven full length albums. Including "When I Woke" (3x platinum).
He also had the honor of sharing the stage with many of his musical influences and heroes including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin (1995 US/UK tour), Carlos Santana (1997/2002 US tour), The Allman Brothers Band (1995/96 US tour), The Grateful Dead (1995 Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA) and many others.
Send Me On My Way also became the first song on Mars where it “woke up” NASA’s Mars Rover.