Never before has one needed the help to take the best possible care of oneself than during this pandemic crisis. If you are working from home or looking after the kids and managing to strike a balance, here are some tips to de-stress this summer holiday season.
Our gut feelings manage to alert our brain when things aren’t right? Worries swirling around inside your head can slow your digestion or make your heart race? Similarly when we are happy our gut and brain are in sync with the feelings and happy hormones are released. Messages between our gut and brain are constantly traveling up and down your body’s superhighway, our vagus nerve.
If we can learn to massage our vagus nerve—the longest cranial nerve stretching from our brain stem to our belly on to our colon, will help soothe the parasympathetic nervous system, lower cortisol or inflammation, relieve tension migraine and anxiety besides amp up our immunity, digestion and mood.c
This nerve connects our body’s major organs to better the mind-body connection. Vagus nerve fibres running through our stomach and intestines, diaphragm, heart, lungs, throat, inner ear and facial muscles form our enteric nervous system best known as our second brain.
Hence, activating our vagus nerve gets us into a fight or flight mode, triggering our brain and heart to calm down releasing feel-good , happy hormones or neurotransmitters like oxytocin to promote feelings of rejuvenation. So we get into a rest and digest mode easily.
There are many simple ways to activate your vagus nerve every day. Try to slow your breathing and encourages relaxation. Slowing your breath stimulates the vagus nerve, calms anxiousness, improves heart rate, betters blood pressure.
Best tips to relax and breathe:
Humming or singing to yourself (even quietly) creates vibrations that massage the area of vagus nerve closer to the vocal chords. Chanting OM during yoga also creates vibrations in the throat which is soothing to the nervous system.
Slow your breathing down, about six deep breathes a minute with meditation and mindfulness practices.
● Opt for conscious breath-work, or taking cold shower, with the aim to deep, slow, diaphragmatic breathing, allow the belly to swell when you inhale and sink with a gradual exhale improves the vagus nerve.
● Belly breathing, is great too. Sit or lie on the floor and put one hand on your belly and your other hand on your chest then observe the rise and fall, heartbeat rises when you inhale and declines when you exhale. Try to practice this through the day, perfect to release stress.
● Breathwork also helps strengthen, higher the vagal tone with overall health benefits for better physical and mental wellbeing whereas a decreased vagal tone leads to inflammation, mood swings, negativity, depression and heart issues. Fitness enthusiasts have a good aerobic breathing so keeps them fit and fabulous overall.
Yoga Expert Raina Roy says, “Indulge in a few deep breaths then try long, slow exhalations. Try inhaling to count of 5 seconds, holding for 10 and exhaling for 7 to relieve mild mood swings. Even alternate nostril breathing or exhale through your nose keeping your mouth closed increases vagal tone by amping the diaphragmatic pressure. Try aerobic exercise, work on the vagal by humming, singing, laughing and even cold shower or splash will work wonders!”