This is a great article about how to 'hack the parasympathetic nervous system' via the vagus nerve which is so very important to our health and wellbeing.
These are the 'hacks' that Dr Shawna Darou recommends.
- Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs stimulates and tones the vagus nerve.
- Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, humming mechanically stimulates it. You can hum a song, or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’.
- Speaking. Similarly speaking is helpful for vagal tone, due to the connection to the vocal cords.
- Washing your face with cold water. The mechanism her is not known, but cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve.
- Meditation, especially loving kindness meditation which promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself and others. A 2010 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik found that increasing positive emotions led to increased social closeness, and an improvement in vagal tone.
- Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone.