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How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Improved Mental Health

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With this month marking the 71st Mental Health Month in the United States, we’re looking forward to discussing some ways to improve your mental health you might never have considered. One of these methods is vagus nerve stimulation. Today, we’re going to share how to stimulate your vagus nerve from home. 

Before we get to that, we also want to share some of the statistics Mental Health America shares surrounding mental health in the United States: 

  • There are 44 million US adults with a mental illness
  • 18% of US adults have a mental illness
  • 56% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment
  • 42.5 million US adults have an anxiety disorder
  • 31.6% of people will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their life
  • Almost one fifth of American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year

These statistics highlight the importance of mental health care and doing whatever we can to care for our mental well-being. And one of the increasingly common ways to promote better mental health in adults is with vagus nerve stimulation. 

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus is the 10th cranial nerve and it’s also called “CN X.” Vagus is the Latin term for “wandering,” and the vagus nerve wanders its way throughout most of the body’s major systems. 

It’s also the longest nerve in the autonomic system, and it extends from your brainstem to your digestive system. It helps share information and feedback within your body to help regulate bodily functions like sweating, blood pressure, digestion, and speaking. 

The management and processing of emotions also happens via the vagus nerve between the heart, gut and brain. This explains why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states. It also explains why the vagus nerve and vagal tone are so closely associated with mental health.  

In fact, researchers are discovering that the vagus nerve has a significant impact on the symptoms of a variety of disorders. Evidence shows that stimulating and strengthening the vagus nerve, a process called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), can reduce the symptoms associated with depression and the effects of anxiety.

What is vagal tone?

Vagal tone refers to the strength and activity of your vagus nerve. Generally speaking, the more active and more “toned” your vagus nerve is, the better. Research shows that when stimulated, the vagus nerve can help with, among other things, mood, calmness, digestion, and sexual arousal.

According to Dr. Mladen Golubic, MD, the Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic:

“It’s almost like yin and yang. The vagal response reduces stress. It reduces our heart rate and blood pressure. It changes the function of certain parts of the brain, stimulates digestion, all those things that happen when we are relaxed.”

As you increase your vagal tone, you help activate your parasympathetic nervous system which has a profound impact on your body’s ability to relax and recover from stress. And for those who are looking for ways to improve their mental health, this is critical.

A balanced nervous system is an important component of your overall well-being. In this blog, we discuss the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. We also share some tips to help keep your autonomic nervous system in check.

Measuring your vagal tone

Soon we’re going to discuss how to stimulate your vagus nerve. But first, let’s discuss how you can measure your vagal tone to begin with. It turns out, there are a few different ways of doing this. Most of them involve heart rate variability or HRV. 

Heart rate variability

Heart rate variability refers to the variability of time between each heart beat. Because your autonomic nervous system controls this biological factor, it links closely with vagal activity. A healthy human heart doesn’t beat on an exact pattern. The time between each beat should be different, and the more variation there is, the better. 

Plenty of studies have been done about HRV, and the research shows that a higher HRV is associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death, as well as improved psychological well-being and emotion regulation

When you increase vagal activity, you also increase heart rate variability. But how can this be done? Even more importantly, how can this be done from home? 

Vagus nerve stimulation at home

There’s an accessible and effective way to increase overall wellness, calmness, balance, and rejuvenation through vagus nerve stimulation from home.

Meet Xen by Neuvana! This is a form of auricular (ear-based) vagus nerve stimulation that is shown to be a safe and effective method of neurostimulation. 

Auricular VNS falls under the transcutaneous VNS (tVNS) category. It delivers electrical stimulation to the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (ABVN). The ABVN is the only peripheral branch of the vagus nerve which makes for an easily accessible target within the human ear. That’s right—there’s no need for invasive methods used to stimulate the vagus nerve. It’s done through your ears with this technology! 

Xen by Neuvana Headphones connect to a handheld device that generates a mild electrical current to stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is stimulated just by placing the headphones in your ears and controlling the technology from an app on your phone. The stimulation sends messages to the brain to generate calming sensations in the body. 

Xen by Neuvana

Xen headphones allow you to experience the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation in an attainable, non-invasive way. 

The headphones can help you manage anxious feelings, allow your body to recover quicker from stress, and help you get a better night’s sleep—each of which is important for improving your overall mental health. 

This compact, portable, and rechargeable technology can be used just about anywhere.

Using Xen by Neuvana Headphones

Ready to start experiencing the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation for yourself? We suggest starting with 15-minute sessions twice a day. Then, as you become more accustomed to the product, you may gradually increase the time up to 25 minutes per session.

Remember, Xen can create a state of deep relaxation for users. That means you shouldn’t engage in any activity that can put you or others at risk of injury while using Xen and for thirty minutes after use. This includes driving a car and operating heavy machinery.

Do you have other questions about Xen by Neuvana or vagus nerve stimulation? Be sure to have a look at our FAQ page where we cover what it feels like to use Xen headphones, when to use Xen by Neuvana, and more useful information.

If you’re ready to see what vagus nerve stimulation can do for you, shop the Xen by Neuvana collection here.

Did you enjoy this post? You won’t want to miss these either:

People Who Can Benefit from Wearing Neuvana Stress-Reducing Earbuds

Stress Relieving Benefits of Xen

Establishing a Mindful Morning Routine

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