It’s no secret that too much stress and the resultant anxiety can create many unpleasant physical as well as emotional symptoms – increased heart rate, abdominal distress, hyperventilating, palpitations, dizziness, headaches, and a sense of free floating fear are examples. You can probably add your own brand of distress. While stressors may be the trigger, there is a direct link to stress and anxiety with the functioning of the vagus nerve.
As you may know I started my career doing research on many illnesses and medical solutions. It created a need to know all the potential answers for treatment. So when one of my clients asks for alternative options for some problem they’re facing, I don my She Sherlock cap and search.
Recently, Bryanna told me she was having palpitations. There was nothing wrong with her heart. She had checked with the doctor. She had many stressors in her life, but experienced them most when she was overwhelmed at work, not getting enough sleep – which was always - or, she and her husband were arguing over finances. She didn’t want to take medication, for fear of getting addicted the way her mother had in the past.
I went to work and was excited to discover a few simple, effective solutions which I’ll describe after telling you a little about the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve connects to different organs in your body,. It’s a component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. When the vagus nerve is not stimulated, you can experience a range of unpleasant results from rapid heart rate and palpitations to generalized anxiety and stomach problems.
How does one increase vagal tone? There are simple exercises to increase your vagal tone. They send signals to your vagus nerve through very specific neurons whose job it is to detect and lower blood pressure and heart rate.
The first two vagal toning exercises for palpitations were so easy. Lay on your back, and
Or, bear down as if you are having a bowel movement.
It stimulates the vagal nerve and stops the rapid beating and fluttering. Bryanna tried it and her palpitations stopped.
I learned more about Vagal nerve toning since it was a remedy for stress and anxiety, too, and would be beneficial to many of my clients.
Here’s another technique to help you cool down when stress has you racing
Exposing your vagus nerve to cold is a quick and effective method to quickly shut down the body’s fight-or-flight response that’s causing your anxiety or panic reactions.
Rather than popping a Klonopin, try this. Place an ice pack on the back of your neck. It will fire your parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down almost immediately by lowering your heart rate.
You can achieve even more intense vagal nerve stimulation by jumping into a cold shower or splashing your face with ice-cold water while taking deep breaths.
So ,the next time you feel your extremities draining, your chest getting tight, your heart racing or fluttering and an anxiety attack coming on, do one of three quick fixes. Cough, bear down or reach for an ice pack from your freezer, place it on the back of your neck, and breathe deeply. You will physically feel your body calming itself down.