Our nervous system greatly influences how our body and organs shape our health. If we mistreat our mental health for longer periods of time, we can expect to experience a lot of negative results like depression, migraines, high blood pressure, inflammatory skin problems, etc. We can influence these conditions directly by nurturing and caring for out nervous system.
Our nervous system controls our body and organs by connecting it with long nerves that stretch from our brain to the organs in question. These cranial nerves, are 12 in number and form our autonomous nerve system.
Out of these twelve groups of nerves, one of them, the Vagus nerve, takes the lion share of a number of controlling organs and tissues.
The Vagus Nerve
The Vagus nerve is the longest of our cranial nerves. It controls a lot of important organs in our body like the heart, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, blood vessels, etc.
That is why the vagus nerve takes a significant part of your overall health. The nerve also has its rhythm that releases vibrations throughout the body, called the vagal tone.
Now, this balanced tone is crucial to us. Because by stimulating the vagal tone, we can improve the health and wellbeing of our organs.
We base the entire work of the vagus nerve on the vagal tone. We can measure the tone by measuring our heart rate alongside our breathing rate.
When we breathe in, our heart rate slows down, and when we breathe out, our heart rises a bit. The difference between these both stages of your heart rate is equal to your vagal tone. The higher the vagal tone, the more relaxed you feel and the faster your body can recover from stress.
What is Vagal Tone Associated With?
Higher vagal tone can improve the function of many bodily functions and processes, including:
- – Blood sugar regulation
- – Less risk of stroke
- – Less risk of heart problems
- – Low blood pressure
- – Better digestion
- – Less migraines
- – Better mood
- – Reduced anxiety
- – Better stress management
On the other hand, low vagal tone can increase the risk of occurrence of:
- – Heart problems
- – Strokes
- – Depression
- – Diabetes
- – Constant fatigue
- – Cognition problems
- – rheumatoid arthritis
- – endometriosis
- – bowel disease
- – lupus and more
So How Can we Increase Our Vagal Tone?
To some extent, your levels of vagal tone are genetically predisposed. While this might be bad news, it really isn’t that bad. We can stimulate vagal tone with normal activities that require regular practice.
Here are 6 Ways to Increase Your Vagal Tone:
Control your Breathing
You can try this right now. Instead of breathing in quickly from the top of your lungs, breathe in slowly and deeply with your diaphragm. You can tell you are breathing from your diaphragm if you feel your belly moving.
Then breathe out. Try to do this slowly as well to catch the heart pace more quickly. This exercise will stimulate the vagus nerve significantly, if done often.
The vagus nerve also connects your vocal cords. By singing your favorite tune, or simply just humming to a song, or even just repeating a two-syllable mantra like “OM” will do just fine. Humming in general also raises your mood.
Similar to humming, regular paced speaking is also helpful for your vagal tone. Because it also related to using your vocal cords.
Washing Your Hair with Cold Water
The burst of cold water to your face activates special receptors in your face. These receptors activate chemicals from your brain that the brain usually releases during a “fight or flight” moment. This also stimulates the vagus nerve.
Meditation that increases your positive emotions can significantly stimulate the vagus nerve.
Balancing the Microbiome of the Gut
Your gut releases positive feedback through the vagus nerve when it contains healthy bacteria. This increases the tone of the vagus nerve.