The vagus nerve, aka “the body’s superhighway” is a long cranial nerve that begins at the brain stem and wanders and branches throughout the body, connecting to ALL of our vital organs. It’s the main pathway of communication between the brain, the gut, and the nervous system. It’s the longest nerve in your body … often referred to as “the wandering nerve”.
The vagus nerve is made of thousands of fibers and operates outside your conscious mind. It plays a vital role in sustaining all dimensions of wellness. It is essential in keeping our bodies, minds, and souls healthy. It is the reason we have a mind-body connection. The vagus nerve provides control for the nervous system’s parasympathetic system (“rest and digest”), which is responsible for calming organs after the sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) response to danger/stress. When the body is not under stress, it sends commands that slow heart and breathing rates and increase digestion. In times of stress, control shifts to the sympathetic system, which produces the opposite effect.
The vagus nerve maintains your heartbeat and makes you sweat. It allows you to speak. It tells your brain what is going on in your organs. It supports your ability to make eye contact and to tune in to other people’s voices. It controls your digestive tract and peristalsis — the involuntary, wavelike contraction of muscles that moves food through the gut. It can help unleash your body’s natural ability to heal.
Healthy functions of the vagus nerve can be compromised during times of chronic or prolonged stress. It can be weakened by trauma or negatively affected by shallow breathing. Even something as simple as bad posture can impact the vagus nerve adversely. A weak vagal tone is linked to a multitude of health issues including chronic pain, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, depression, brain fog, inflammation, gut sensitivities, cardiovascular disease, and much more.
A strong vagal tone is associated with feeling well, emotional stability, boosting your immune system, low inflammation, improved bodily function, and is essential for optimizing physical and mental wellness.
The good news is that we can all strengthen our vagal tone … things as simple as gargling, spending time in nature, doing breathwork, UnMeditating, singing and laughing out loud, humming, facial reflexology, taking cold showers, eating prebiotics, probiotics, and a kind food diet all help to tone our vagus nerve.
Don’t ignore your vagus nerve. Understand that you have control over it and that it plays an important role in discovering your Wellness Intelligence! Basically, if you take good care of you, you are taking good care of you! SIMPLE SENSE.
WAYS TO TONE YOUR VAGUS NERVE:
Learning Lab: Uplifting
Book: Activate your Vagus Nerve by TWIC member, Navaz Habib
Book: Say Yes, available in The Borden Store
Online Space: Self-Care Studio
Practice: Therapeutic Humming and Contrast Showers
Conversation in Wellness Intelligence: Does gargling give me a better night’s sleep?
Tool: Yin Scalp Rake (available in our online shop)