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April 29, 2021 4 min read

If you were asked about your knowledge around the vagus nerve, what would you have to say? Maybe that it’s simply a “nerve in your body” or that you just don’t know! If this answer sounds like something similar to your own response, you’re not alone!

 

The vagus nerve might not be a nerve people commonly know a lot about, but truthfully, it’s one of the most important parts of your body. The vagus nerve can have a big impact on your physical andmental health, which is why it’s so important to learn more about it!

What is the Vagus Nerve?

To start, let’s talk about what the vagus nerve is. Knowing about the vagus nerve can be a hack all on its very own. By focusing on this one pathway, you can avoid getting lost in the complexity of the nervous system and instead focus on the one connection that brings everything together.

 

The vagus nerve connects from the brain and to the organs of the neck, chest, and abdomen. You might be surprised to know it is the longest nerve in the body! This long nerve carries a tone, or vibration which is considered the vagal tone. A lower vagal tone possibly indicates higher levels of anxiety and depression, while a higher vagal tone signifies higher levels of dopamine and serotonin.

 

The vagus nerve works as the body’s information superhighway. It sends signals from the brain to all other organs in the body and is in constant communication with the heart, lungs, and gut. This nerve is responsible for regulating the body’s stress response.

 

One of the most interesting things about the vagus nerve is that a mother passes her vagal tone to her child. Mothers who are more stressed will have a lower vagal tone, and mothers who are calm will have a higher vagal tone. As humans, we actually have the ability to tune the vagus nerve which means we have the ability to change it. With that ability to change the tone of the vagus nerve, we’re also able to influence our mental health.

The Importance of the Vagus Nerve for Mental Health


So, how does the vagus nerve connect to mental health and improve it?

 

Simply put, the vagus nerve needs to be stimulated in order to increase vagal tone. As we identified, you want to increase vagal tone in order to help your body relax and come to a normalized state after it is stressed.

 

Feeling calmer and more relaxed, and being able to deal with stress more effectively means we benefit mentally. Ultimately leading to better mental health overall.

How to Hack the Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health

It’s clear the vagus nerve can have a big impact on our mental health and our ability to improve it. We’ve put together this collection of simple, but effective hacks to better mental health!

Deep and slow breathing


When you slow down your breathing, you’re actually able to stimulate the vagus nerve. Instead of taking the usual 10+ breaths a minute that most humans do involuntarily, try slowing it down to about six breaths per minute.

 

When practicing intentional breathing, inhale and allow your stomach to expand outward. Follow this with a deep and slow exhale.

 

This type of breathing will help to relieve stress and reduce anxiety, gradually helping you to increase your well-being.

Cold exposure

Although it might not always feel the best to expose ourselves to the cold at first, it happens to be a great way to activate the vagus nerve!

 

It could be dunking your head in a sink full of cold water, or forcing yourself into an icy cold shower. You’ll be sure to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve your mental health in the process.

Yoga and Meditation

Anyone who has tried yoga and meditation is likely to tell you it helps to achieve a relaxed state.

 

Yoga actually increases GABA which is a neurotransmitter that influences the brain into a calm state. Similarly, meditation increases the vagal tone and the positive emotions that help you to feel good about yourself.

 

Learn our nine favorite types of meditation and the one that’s right for youhere.

Exercise

Your physical health is undoubtedly an important aspect of your mental health. Exercise is also a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve!

 

A regular exercise routine is a great way to get the stimulation you need and release a rush of endorphins into your body. The better you feel physically, the better you’re bound to feel mentally.

Probiotics

Your gut health can have a big influence on your well-being. In fact, the probiotics you find in foods like yogurt can help to stimulate your vagus nerve, increase GABA and reduce stress hormones. The vagus nerve is a powerful thing!

Technology  

As you learn more about the vagus nerve, it can be interesting to discover it can be “hacked” with technology.

 

Xen by Neuvana is an electronic device that delivers gentle micro pulses through headphones directly to your vagus nerve located in your ear. All you need to do is pair it wirelessly to your Neuvana app and customize your sessions.

 

This process ends up stimulating the vagus nerve which helps to improve your focus and help you stay calm. As you enter a relaxed state and gain control, your mental health only improves! Many will use Xen daily in order to boost their energy and get a renewed sense of well-being each and every day.

 

You can learn more about using Xen by Neuvana and its many benefitshere.

Your Journey Towards Better Mental Health

Now that you know more about the vagus nerve, why it is so important to your mental health, and some tips for hacking it, it’s time to start on your journey! Each of our hacks can help stimulate the vagus nerve which ultimately leads to better mental health.

 

If you would like to learn more about how Xen by Neuvana works as a mental health technology, be sure to take a look at ourcollection of FAQs, orclick here to shop Xen by Neuvana.