Anxiety is one of the most common mental health difficulties in the world; with around 8 million people in the UK suffering with some form of anxiety disorder.
In the modern world anxiety and depression are on the rise, but working knowledge of the vagus nerve could help you gain control of your anxiety.
Our bodies experience anxiety as a physiological response to a perceived threat, putting us in a fight or flight response.
The Vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, running from the brain all the way down to the stomach; this nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system which controls functions such as digestion, the immune system and heart rate.
Your vagal tone is an involuntary biological process which refers to the rate at which your vagus nerve is working, a low vagal tone can lead to problems including anxiety.
Essentially, the faster your vagus nerve is working, the quicker your body can relax after stress.
In the event of an anxiety or panic attack, stimulating your Vagus nerve can reduce your symptoms.
Here are some steps you can take to do so:
Exposing Yourself To The Cold
This could be a cold shower, running cold water on your wrists or neck (any pulse points), dipping your face in ice water.
Massaging Your Vagus Nerve
Use your hands to gently massage your neck, in between your jaw and collarbones.
Hum, Sing Or Speak
Your vagus nerve is closely situated to your vocal chords and making noise can stimulate it
Separately, you can try the below to reduce the effects when a pang of anxiety arises…
Holding our breath can increase the sensation of anxiety or fear, focusing on breathing deeply can reduce this
Facing your palms open and outwards forces your brain to recognise that there is no immediate threat to protect you from
Many people with problems that affect their Vagal tone also experience anxiety or depression.
There are a myriad of issues that may be symptomatic of a Vagus nerve problem depending on which area of the body is being affected; this could include: loss of appetite, abdominal pain, bloating, acid reflux, loss of voice, dizziness and many more.
In general, the best way to keep a healthy vagal tone is exercise and a balanced diet. Of course, if your anxiety becomes extreme, the best course of action may be talking therapy or medication.
If you feel controlled by your anxiety then it is important to speak with your GP about what could help you.
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