Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

Do you know how important the vagus nerve is?

The vagus nerve is our wandering nerve that originates from the brainstem. It is one of the longest cranial nerves and innervates the muscles of the face, throat, respiration, digestion, and heart. It has such a profound impact, and it is 80 percent of our parasympathetic nervous system. This is important because it can allow us to fully relax, restore, recover, and digest. It can also help us become socially engaged, connected to the greater world, connected to ourselves, and be more mindful, joyful, and grounded.

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Here are five vagus nerve hacks that you can do to bring you back to this parasympathetic state; to the state of relaxation and social engagement.

1) Humming

Singing is a great way for us as humans to communicate and be connected to the greater world. Humming is a means of vocalization that has an extended exhale. When this happens, we are releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which will stimulate the vagus nerve and create this relaxation response. Additionally, when we are humming, the vibration of humming oscillates the air and causes the nasal cavity to release nitric oxide, which thereby increases vasodilation and circulation. Lastly, it can create a co-regulation with other humans. This creates a safe place for us and that brings us back to that state of social engagement.

2) Sternal Release

The vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart, which is also referred to as our pacemaker. It also sits inside of the lung tissue and passes right through the diaphragm. You have baroreceptors in your aorta and carotid which detect pressure changes, especially blood pressure changes. When we are stimulating these things, we can induce a relaxation response. 

To do the sternal release, place a soft ball under your sternum, inhale through the nose, and pretend to cough, but don’t actually cough. So, you’re breath-holding and then slowly exhaling. Perform this for 10 to 20 minutes.

3) Neck Release

Release the areas around the carotid artery, which moves into the carotid sinus, and is innervated by the vagus nerve. As we move through the tissues, we are moving, compressing, lengthening, and shearing all of these tissues around the vagus nerve.

You’ll start just below your ear by compressing and twisting the ball gently as you shear across the tissues. Gently lengthen the neck by turning your head in the opposite direction. Go slowly and carefully over the trachea, hyoid, and larynx in the center, because they can be a little bit more sensitive. After performing the neck release, you should feel warmth in the neck and perhaps even your face. You might even be able to use your senses a little more clearly; sight, sound, and smell. It might just feel like your face softens afterward as well.

4) Probiotics

The enteric nerves from the gut and the vagus nerve are connecting the gut and the brain, which is referred to as our gut-brain connection. Think of this as a highway, a beautiful bi-directional communication. This can be greatly impacted by our HPA axis, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, referred to as our stress pathway. This can be influenced by probiotics. The two primary strains of bacteria that have been shown to impact mood, behavior, depression, anxiety, also referred to as psychobiotics are lactobacillus rhamnosus and bifidobacterium longum. Both of these strains have been shown to have improvements in anxiety and depression-related behavior, but they can also impact GABA, which in essence, inhibits feelings of fear and anxiety. This can have a profound effect on mood and behavior.

5) Visceral Release 

We tend to hold a lot of tension in our abdomen. It is important to remember that 80 percent of our vagus nerve is sensory indicating that it is providing information back up to the brain. The vagus nerve is innervating our gut, so if we’re holding tension here, we are signaling “tension” or distress to our brain. It’s really important to create these relaxation responses of the organs, tissue, fascia, and skin by stimulating the vagus nerve.

For the visceral release, lie on a ball or even a rolled-up towel or blanket on your side, and gently guide the tissue, skin, fascia, and organs over the ball. Breathe diaphragmatically, starting on your left side and then moving to your right. 

These are five of many different vagus nerve hacks, but please follow us (@themovementparadigm) on TikTok, IG, and FB, for more health tips to help you feel great again!

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How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

With anxiety, depression and stress on the climb, have you ever wondered how you can understand your reactions to life’s challenges and stressors? Or maybe you wondered how you can become more resilient? Did you know that you can map your own nervous system? This is such a powerful tool that can help you shift the state of your nervous system to help you feel more mindful, grounded, and joyful during the day, and more importantly during your life. Before we discuss how to map your nervous system, let’s break down the autonomic nervous system a bit more.

The terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” are typically what we refer to when discussing this autonomic nervous system. However, there are three different aspects of the autonomic nervous system referred to as the polyvagal theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. The vagus nerve, referred to as the wandering nerve in Latin, is one of the longest nerves that originates in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat, circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve is the major constituent of the parasympathetic nervous system and 80 percent of it’s nerve fibers are sensory, which means the feedback is critical for the body’s homeostasis. This amazing vagus nerve is constantly conveying information back to our brain. For example, when we take slow deep breaths, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. This will cause the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which signals back to the brain to create this relaxation response. Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to bring the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

Three nervous system states

  1. First, our “fight and flight” response is our survival strategy, a response from the sympathetic nervous system. If you were going to run from tiger, for example, you want this response to save your life. When we have a fight response, we can have anger, rage, irritation, and frustration. If we are having a flight response, we can have anxiety, worry, fear, and panic. Physiologically, our blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline increase and it decreases digestion, pain threshold, and immune responses.
  2. Second, we have a “freeze” state, our dorsal vagal state, which is our most primitive pattern, and this is also referred to as our emergency state. This means that we are completely shut down, we can feel hopeless and feel like there’s no way out. We tend to feel depressed, conserve energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed, and feel like we can’t move forward. Physiologically, our fuel storage and insulin activity increases and our pain thresholds increase.
  3. Lastly, our “social engagement” state is a response of the parasympathetic system, also known as a ventral vagal state. It is our state of safety and homeostasis. If we are in our ventral vagal state, we are grounded, mindful, joyful, curious, empathetic, and compassionate. This is the state of social engagement, where we are connected to ourselves and the world. Physiologically, digestion, resistance to infection, circulation, immune responses, and our ability to connect is improved.

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polyvygal chart
Adapted by Ruby Jo Walker

As humans, we have and will continue to experience all of these states. We may be in a joyful, mindful state and then all of a sudden due to a trigger, be in a really frustrated, possibly angry state, worried about what may happen to then feeling completely shut down. This is human experience. We are going to naturally shift through the states.

However, when we stay in this fight or flight or this shut down/freeze state, that is when we begin to have significant physiological effects and also mental/emotional effects. As I mentioned earlier, this could be an emergency state. This can also be a suicidal state, if we are in this shut down mode for too long. If we are in a fight or flight state, we can have constant activation of our stress pathway, also known as the HPA axis, and we can really impact our stress hormones, sex hormones, our thyroid, etc. This stress will have significant inflammation effects on the body as well. All of these states can have considerable effect on our overall health, positive or negative, of course. Also, you can not get well if you are not in your “safe” state. No treatment intervention or professional will help you if you are not safe. This is why it’s really important to identify the states for each of you.

How can you map your nervous system?

  1. Identify each state for you.

The first step is to think of one word that defines each one of these states for you. For example, if you are in your ventral vagal state, this is also called the rest and digest state, you could say that you feel happy, content, joyful. etc.

When you are in your fight or flight state you could use the words worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

In the freeze state you could use the words shut down, numb, hopeless, etc.

The first step is identifying the word that you correlate with each of those three states. This is really important because then you’re able to recognize which state you are in and identify with it quickly. This will allow you to really tune into your body and understand how you feel in that state, so you can help yourself get out of it.

2. Identify your triggers and glimmers.

You’ll want to identify triggers for your fight/flight state as well as your freeze state. These could be things like a fight with your boss, an argument with your spouse, a death of a loved one, if someone cuts you off while driving, etc. It is whatever things that cause you to feel stressed. You want to eventually have at least one trigger, if not many, written down for each of those states.

Glimmers are the things that bring you to that optimal nervous system state. It could be something as simple as petting a dog or something bigger like going on a vacation.

Click here for Deb Dana’s Worksheet to Map Your Nervous System

Summary

Once you can identify what those states are for you, then you can recognize what your triggers and glimmers are for that state. You can really begin to make a profound difference in your nervous system state. You can take ownership of what’s happening to your body, you can tune in to what’s happening, and know how to regulate your emotions and your responses to stress. Ultimately, this is how we can begin to develop resilience. This means being able to have respond appropriately to life’s challenges, go to that fight or flight state for a short period, and then return back to your state of social engagement. That should happen a few times a year not multiple times a day, or every day for that matter. To truly enjoy life, returning to your state of safety where you are mindful, grounded, and joyful, is a practice. It can start with mapping your own nervous system.  

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HOW TO TEST YOUR VAGUS NERVE | Polyvagal Theory

Did you know that you can test your vagal nerve function, and not only can you test it, but you can begin to tap into the healing power of the vagus nerve? Your vagus nerve is responsible for the regulation of internal organs such as digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate and impacts certain reflex actions like coughing, sneezing, and swallowing. It is critical to optimal health and you can tap into it-but first, find out what state you’re in.

The Polyvagal Theory

Before we jump into how you can assess the vagal nerve, let’s talk a little bit about the autonomic nervous system. We used to think of the autonomic nervous system as simply fight or flight or rest and digest. However, Dr. Steven Porges’s work shows us that there’s much more to it and there are actually three circuits of our autonomic nervous system. This is referred to as the polyvagal theory.

Essentially we have our fight or flight state, which is also considered our sympathetic spinal activation. We also have our dorsal vagal state, referring to the most primitive vagal nerve, and indicates we are in a freeze state. This means we are shut down and feel hopeless. We are disassociated from ourselves and other people.

Lastly, we have the ventral vagal circuit, which means we are in a state of social engagement-a state of safety. This means we are connected to the greater world. We’re connected to ourselves. We are joyful and mindful. All three of these are critical and during the day we go through all of these different circuits, but most often we don’t even recognize that we do because we go through them so quickly. However, we can get stuck in these. We can get stuck in a fight or flight stress response where we’re constantly worried, anxious, frustrated, or irritated. It’s also easy to remain in a shut-down mode. We of course could be mindful and joyful. We’re constantly fluctuating.

polyvygal chart
Adapted by Ruby Jo Walker

Check out our previous blog on “How to Map your Nervous System” here.

Breaking that down a little further, let’s speak about the ventral vagal nerve. This originates from the brainstem just as the dorsal vagal nerve does. This innervates most of the muscles of the throat, such as the larynx, pharynx, uvular muscles as well as the levator palatini muscles in the back of the throat. Whereas our dorsal vagal nerve, which is more subdiaphragmatic, innervates the muscles of the stomach, liver, and digestive system. It also does innervate the muscles of the heart and lungs. Just a reminder, the dorsal vagal nerve is impacting that freeze state, shutdown mode, whereas the ventral vagal is eliciting that sense of inner calm and relaxation and is associated with our state of safety or state of social engagement.

Testing Ventral Vagal Function

You may need a partner for this. This is a really powerful technique that can have a profound impact on how you address your body. Remembering where all the powerful neural innervations are, one of the innervations of the ventral vagus nerve is the throat.

  • Grab a partner and a flashlight.
  • Have your partner look at the inside of the mouth at the back of the throat at the uvula that drops down right in the center.
  • Now, perform an “ah, ah, ah” sound.
  • When you open your mouth, you can use a tongue depressor or your fingers to push down your tongue so the uvula and soft palate can be more visible.
  • The examiner is going to look at the uvula to see if there is a deviation to one side.  
three mouths anatomy
Adapted from Stanley Rosenberg’s Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve

What you’re looking for, specifically, is if there’s any deviation from one side to the other. If the uvula pulls over to one side, then that is indicative of ventral vagal nerve dysfunction. If it moves up symmetrically, then that means that you are in that state of social engagement. So, if you have the soft palate moving up on one side, let’s say it’s moving up on the left side, and not moving up on the right side, then that would be indicative of a dysfunction of the pharyngeal branch of the ventral vagal nerve.

Now, that you’ve tested let’s move into how to stimulate the vagus nerve.

Vagus Nerve stimulation: The basic exercise

If your test indicated that you had a ventral vagal nerve dysfunction, perform the basic exercise for vagus nerve stimulation.

  • Lie on your back on the ground.
  • Interlace your fingers and bring them behind your head- right at the base of the skull
  • Look with your eyes to the right until you sigh, swallow, or yawn, and then repeat on the other side.
  • You may blink during the exercise.

Now that you’ve stimulated it, retest your vagal nerve and see if there was a change.

This is just one way to measure your autonomic nervous system function. This is also just one way out of many to stimulate your vagus nerve. However, recognize there are so many ways to become more aware, more in tune, and map your nervous system. You are completely in control of what’s happening in your life.

I want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Steven Porges for all of his amazing work in this area, as well as Stanley Rosenberg, for their contributions to this area of life-changing research. Make sure to check out the book, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve, by Stanley Rosenberg.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schedule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

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HOW TO HACK YOUR BRAIN FOR NEW YEARS RESOLUTION SUCCESS

Are you a person that sets a New Year’s resolution every year, but doesn’t quite follow through with it? Maybe you know a lot of friends and family members that set goals, but by the end of the year, you ask them if they’ve done them and they haven’t. Whether you’ve been successful in the past or not, this is a new year, and you absolutely can hack your brain through cognitive-behavioral processes to achieve success in your New Year’s resolutions. You can do this in three easy ways. 

Setting SMART Goals.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Oriented.

Specific: You want to be specific about your goal and map out how you’re going to be able to do that. For example, I want to learn steel mace this year. I know the basics, but this year I’m going to dedicate some time towards getting better and more proficient at steel mace. At the end of the year, I want to certify in that, so I have a very specific goal. 

Measurable: How can you measure your goals? So my measure is going to be when I complete the certification. If that doesn’t happen this year that’s okay, but I’m going to work towards that, so that is my precise measurement. 

Action-Oriented: Next is action-oriented, how exactly are you going to achieve that goal? So, I’m working with a coach and I’m going to practice two to three days a week on steel mace. I’ve signed up for the certification so that each month I’ll be working towards a specific goal. Essentially, how are you going to map out achieving that goal? If you don’t do that, you are not setting yourself up for success. For example, if you want to lose weight, but you don’t like to grocery shop, then that is not going to work out so well. You have to figure out how you can meal prep or maybe you need to hire a professional to help guide you because you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again. 

Realistic: Is it realistic, is this possible, or is it too farfetched? For example, saying I’m going to lose 40 pounds in a month or I’m going to go to the gym five to seven days a week are not realistic goals. You need to give yourself time to adapt and work into a new habit as opposed to just going all in and then crashing come February. 

Time: Lastly is the building in the time. So what are you measuring and then what is your timeline to achive it? For example, by June or sooner I am going to begin to work out three days a week or by February or sooner I am going to eat six servings of vegetables a day.

Take your time and go through this process. Make sure your goals are strong, realistic, and measurable so that you can be successful. 

2. Hacking that habit loop, and rewarding yourself. 

When you are setting a new goal, you want to try to reward yourself immediately after you’ve done something. For example, you wake up in the morning and exercise, right after you are done exercising you want to reward yourself. That could be something as simple as taking a hot shower or eating a piece of chocolate. Whatever is rewarding to you. Research shows that you should do it immediately after the activity to help reinforce that process and reprogram your subconscious mind.

3. Consistency.

You have to be consistent when trying to gain new habits. Even when it’s hard, you have to commit, perhaps for two minutes or five minutes. You have to be consistent and once you do, it becomes easier and easier. Sometimes you have to break through a lot of barriers and a lot of subconscious behaviors that have been working against you for so long. Remember your subconscious mind always likes what’s easy and likes to follow the path of least resistance so you have to work hard to break out of that. 

This year, change things up. Don’t be the norm. Happy New Year!

If you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schdule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

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The Science of Resilience | 5 ways to become more resilient

Did you ever wonder why some people seem to be so resilient despite what life has thrown their way, where others seem to have great difficulty dealing with even small obstacles? It is absolutely dependent on the environment that we are in as a child and as an adult. However, it is not innate within us, it is something that can be developed and refined as our lives go on. It allows us to deal with adversity, overcome adversity, and be able to live the life that we want to live regardless of our experiences.

Let’s talk about the science of resilience. What are some of the studies and research showing and how can we become more resilient?

1. Changing the narrative. There is something that we all tend to do when something negative happens to us is we replay it over and over again in our minds. This is a concept called rumination, where we just keep reliving whatever experience we have had. We can begin to shift the language that we speak and we can do that through journaling, writing, and speaking.

2. Expressive writing. This has been shown to be very effective in changing and shifting our perspective. You can begin to write and share your deepest thoughts on paper for 20 minutes or so, as opposed to having some kind of structure or writing about something very superficial. This allows you to reflect and shift your thinking about this experience that you have faced. This has been shown to improve overall outlooks on life and helps you become more engaged in life. Even for some of the pessimists that participated in the study, it allowed them to become less depressed and pessimistic.

3. Practicing self-compassion. This is something that we all have such a hard time with but allowing yourself grace and compassion for the deep human emotions that we all experience especially during suffering.

4. Meditation. The practice of mindfulness can be so powerful. The process of rumination causes us to continuously focus and dwell on our past experience, whereas mindfulness, conversely, is focusing on the present moment. It helps you to be truly in the present, knowing what’s happening in your body, and around you. Being able to cultivate a practice of meditation can be so powerful in giving you clarity in your life, allowing you to respond to situations rather than react to them.

5. Cultivating forgiveness. This can be profound in your mental and physical health. You can start by identifying someone that you may need to forgive, and recognizing that person, too, has suffered. That person has made the choice that they’ve made for some particular reason, and that they are human, as well. This practice through research has been profound in once again impacting your overall mental and physical health, and therefore resilience.

So, can resiliency be developed or is it something that you’re born with? I truly believe that our environment, past experiences, and circumstances play into our ability to overcome adversity. However, it is also something that we can consciously bring into our lives and work on and develop so that we can overcome life’s challenges and obstacles. We are always going to have obstacles and they are always going to be there. Expect the unexpected. We know that there’s always going to be change in our lives, so if we can expect that, then we may be more prepared to deal with what might come from it.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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What is SIBO?| Is this the cause of your digestive issues?

Have you heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but you don’t know what to do about it? You may be wondering  if this is the cause of your digestive issues? Is this what’s making you feel so terrible? Let’s start by saying that SIBO is very complex and there is not one easy roadmap to treat SIBO. It is really important to understand what it is, the anatomy behind it, the risk factors, some of the symptoms that you could experience, and most importantly, the underlying causes. SIBO is exactly what it sounds like, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It is not necessarily an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, although it can be pathogenic, it is in essence, an overgrowth. The small intestine is meant for digestion and absorption of nutrients, where the large intestine is meant to house our beneficial bacteria. When we have a backflow of this bacteria into the small intestine, that’s when we can begin to overpopulate and have an overgrowth.

Let’s go over some brief functional anatomy so that you understand what’s happening. When you start chewing your food, you produce salivary enzymes to help begin the digestive process. The food is then passed through our esophagus, i.e. the food pipe, into the stomach. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down the food even further. We have our gallbladder that releases bile to help break down the food moving into the small intestine. Our pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help further break down this food. Once the food moves into the small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet long, so it’s not small, digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. The small intestine connect into our large intestine. There’s an ileocecal valve that prevents any backflow. From here, we then move the food into our rectum for waste removal. We can think of the large intestine as the house for the good bacteria and our storage for waste and excretion.

What symptoms can you have with SIBO?

One of the most frequent complaints is bloating. This is when the gases build-up from the bacteria eating the food. When the gas is releases, it causes pressure or distension in the abdomen. The small intestine is not made for any kind of buildup. When this buildup occurs and we’re not able to process it or digest it properly, this is when you can begin to have symptoms of nausea and acid reflux. The other two symptoms that are very common are constipation and/or diarrhea. You may have both and it could be alternating, or you could gravitate more towards one or the other. This can often be referred to as SIBO-C or SIBO-D. In addition to all the common digestive complaints associated with SIBO such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping, and abdominal pain, you can also have other health issues. This can range from skin issues to significant fatigue to anxiety or depression, and the list goes on.

What are the risk factors for SIBO?

1. Disease states. That can be an autoimmune disease or any other chronic disease that can be a driving factor.

2. Surgery. Specifically abdominal surgeries that create adhesions from scar tissue. This can impact the motility of the small intestine.

3. Medications. This can be any kind of pharmaceutical drugs or antibiotics that you may have been taking, chemotherapy, etc. All of these can drive SIBO.

Now, what are the underlying causes of SIBO?

This is often much more difficult to figure out, and sometimes requires a lot of investigation. The underlying cause essentially is when the system fails. When this protection mode and the normal process of digestion is not happening the way that it should. This can happen for various reasons.

1. If we do not have the appropriate amount of stomach acid in the stomach to be able to begin to break down food properly.

2. If there is an enzyme deficiency, which means that you do not have the capability of being able to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

3. The immune system. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut specifically in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). You can appreciate that if this system begins to fail and our immune system becomes more heightened, this can be an underlying cause of SIBO.

If you have IBS or have chronic digestive issues, you may look into this as a possible cause. You can get tested for SIBO here.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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THE SCIENCE OF KNOWING WHAT TO DO BUT NOT DOING IT | 6 Mindset Hacks

Did you ever wonder why you know exactly what you should be doing to make your life better, happier, healthier, but you don’t do it? You keep saying next week, next year, in five years, but it never really becomes a reality. We have all been there but let’s talk about the science of why that happens and what you can do about it. To put it simply, we are humans and we all have emotion. With that, we are naturally going to gravitate towards pleasure and away from pain. Say for example, Friday night rolls around, and your spouse or significant other wants to order pizza. You’ve had a long week so even though you’re planning to have a salad, you go for the pizza. Another example is sleeping in versus working out in the morning. The reality is that we consistently overcomplicate things. We make them way too complex for what they need to be.

Your subconscious mind is 99 percent of your mind. This is the house of all of your past experiences. This includes your memories, beliefs, and unresolved emotions. This is the domain of your habits. Our conscious mind, however is one percent of our mind and is responsible for our thoughts, goals, awareness of self. For us to be able to set a goal and be able to succeed at it, we have to align the subconscious mind with the conscious mind. Even though we know what we should do i.e. our conscious mind, our subconscious mind is a million times faster and much more powerful. If those two are not aligned, then unfortunately we will not be able to meet our goals or set out to do what we said we were going to do. As it relates to habits, we run our day on approximately 45 percent to 95 percent on habits.  Our thoughts are actually part of our habits. We have about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. You can hopefully appreciate that if these conscious thoughts are overpowering our conscious mind, then we are going to default to whatever is easier. We are not necessarily going to move towards the pain, we are going to move towards pleasure, whatever is the easiest thing right now. Going back to that Friday night pizza, “I’ve had a long week and I’m tired,” so I’m just going to go back to what’s comfortable and what’s easy…pleasure.

Additionally, when we get out of our comfort zone, for example setting a goal to exercise every day, this signals fear to the body. Immediately we have chemicals released that are signaling fear and danger. So guess what happens? We also want to move towards what’s easy, what’s comfortable, and what’s pleasurable. We easily will revert back and not achieve our new year’s resolution to exercise every day.

So let’s talk about six ways that you can begin to align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, you can begin to make your goals a reality.

1) Healthful habits

You want to develop healthful habits so that when your conscious mind gets tired from all those thoughts that are racing through your head, that your subconscious mind decides to take over and do the right thing.

2) Be aware

Be aware of your thoughts, inner voice, and most importantly the language that you are speaking to yourself. If you continue to say, “I’m never really going to get strong,” then you will not get strong. You will not necessarily work out like you’re supposed to in order to get strong. So, you want to make sure that you’re in tune with the language that you’re speaking and shift it to a productive language. “I am going to work out so that I am strong.”

3) Clarity

Have clarity about what you want, what are you striving to do, and the goal(s) that you are hoping to achieve. If you do not have clarity of your vision, dream, or goal, then it will be very challenging to allow that subconscious mind to be aligned with the conscious mind.

4) Take small action steps

This is extremely important to make sure that you are making small incremental changes, especially in your habits. Think of the first time that you were told you had to brush your teeth. Since you were a young child, you’ve been brushing your teeth every single day, at least we hope so. That’s a perfect example of how habits start.

5) Consistency

It is so crucial that for you to do what you want to do, to be consistent with your habits, day in and day out. Blocking time in your schedule, for example, to allow yourself the time to be able to perform whatever it is that you need to do. Whether that’s working out, meal prepping, or meditation. Be consistent with whatever you do so that it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

6) Celebrate

Celebrate your successes! This is where we can have serotonin and dopamine responses that can improve that feeling of happiness, as well as reward and motivation. It keeps you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing to keep this habit going to make sure that it’s truly part of your life.

There are six different ways to help you align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, allow you to achieve your goals, and do what you say you are going to do.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

DO YOU HAVE A SOCIAL DILEMMA?

Do you have a social dilemma? Do you love to stay connected to your friends, family on Facebook or Instagram, but do you feel like you just scroll aimlessly checking out what everyone else is doing for hours. Do you feel addicted to the “like” button? Anytime you post, can you hardly wait to see who’s responded to it? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you are just like most Americans and people all over the world. We are seeking “social” approval. We are constantly posting and potentially comparing ourselves to what everyone else is doing. Meanwhile, all of the social media platforms have algorithms that know exactly what we’re doing at all times. They know what we’re thinking, what type of personality we have, and what our interests are. Hence, all of the specific ads targeted towards us. They are watching every move we make and are therefore manipulating our decisions and actions.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, there was a 5,000 person study that showed that a significant increase in social media use correlated with higher mental and physical health issues as well as decreased life satisfaction. Sixty four percent of the people that have joined extremist groups on Facebook have done so because the algorithms have directed them there. The list goes on. If you have children or teenagers, I’m sure you’re well aware of how it affects communication, their interests, and how they play and interact. We used to go out and play, but now children want to play on the computer, YouTube, Instagram, or any other game or social media platform. We see in our practice every day how it can impact body image and confidence issues in women AND men.

Let’s not forget all of the amazing things about social media. It’s great for businesses marketing. It’s powerful to be able to connect with people you haven’t seen for years, and how to be able to stay abreast of all the things that are happening in your family and friends lives.  There are so many wonderful things about social media too, hence the social dilemma.

What can you do to get control of your social media use so that it’s benefiting you, your life, your family, your friends, and everyone around you, as opposed to negatively impacting your mental, physical, and emotional health?

1) Setting aside time every day to look at social media. Block time so that you are limiting yourself to a certain amount so that there will be less aimless scrolling and more intentional use. Then, stick to it!

2) Delete all notifications on your phone. That means Facebook, Instagram, email, etc. notifications. Delete them all, so that way you can choose what and when you are going to look at these different platforms and you are not being dictated by the algorithms.

3) Aim to follow organizations and people that you believe in, you trust, you respect, and admire, so that when you open your feed it is not filled with things that do not make your life better.

4) Watch the social dilemma. If you haven’t already, it is an outstanding movie that will change the way that you think. It has shifted my thinking, and how I’ve organized my time and planning for looking at social media. I hope that it will have the same impact on you and your family.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Are you in tune with your body? | INTEROCEPTION

Did you ever wonder why some people are so much more in tune with their emotions and their bodies than others? Did you ever wonder how in-tune you are with yourself?

Interoception, otherwise known as your internal awareness is also referred to as the eighth sense, one that we’re a little less familiar with. It also tells us about our autonomic function, such as respiration, digestion, our heartbeat, and even our emotions. We have visceral receptors that are constantly giving us information about our internal senses, but often times we don’t listen to them.

At the most basic level, interoception allows us to ask the question, how do I feel? Am I hungry? Am I safe? or Am I full? Am I sad? Do I have to go to the bathroom? Being in tune with what is happening inside your body is an amazing skill to have and has been shown to improve emotional regulation.

Interoception helps us to be able to manage our bodies, listen to signals, and take action. Having this greater sense of internal awareness helps us to be able to manage our emotions as well.

We often tend to stuff our emotions and push them away as if they don’t exist. When we can be in touch with our own body, emotions, feelings, and be able to learn how to express them, we can have a better quality of life. This also decreases our risk of chronic disease and illness that is associated with not being in tune with all of those things.

So you may be wondering, how can I test my interception?

A simple heart rate test: You can do this by sitting in a chair with your arms down to your side. 

Close your eyes or keep them open and without actually putting your hands on your body try to take your pulse. You want to attempt to sense your pulse, your heartbeat, for one minute.

After you record your number, then you will actually take your pulse. To do this, you will use your pointer finger and middle finger and put them on your wrist on the thumb side to feel your radial pulse. You can also use those two fingers and put them right behind your jawline to feel your carotid pulse.

You want to use very gentle pressure, and you should not need to dig in. Take your pulse for one minute and record your findings. You’ll wait two minutes, and then you repeat the test. Then, average the results of both the actual pulse and the sensed pulse.

Now to complete the following calculation:

1- ((Average heart rate – estimated heart rate)/ average heart rate) = _______

For your results: a result of .80 or higher indicates that you are very intercepted aware.

A score of .60 to .79 indicates you’re moderately self-aware.

Lastly, a result of less than .59 indicates that you have poor interoception.

Although this is not the only way to measure your self-awareness, it is a good starting point. If you find that you have poor self-awareness, that is okay. There are lots of ways that you can begin to improve your internal awareness.

Mindfulness is one of the best ways to become more in tune and aware of your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, surroundings, and become present in your own life. Many times, we are anxious about the future or we may be depressed about the past, when in fact being present is actually a really wonderful place to be.

Hopefully, you will appreciate how important it is to develop and integrate these interoceptive skills in your life so that you can be fully present and enjoy everything life has to offer.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VAGAL TONE | 9 Ways To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve

Did you ever wonder how you can consciously tap into the power of your vagus nerve to trigger your sense of inner calm and reduce inflammation in your body?

The vagus nerve is also referred to as the “wandering nerve” in Latin because it begins in the brainstem and it has multiple branches to the heart, viscera, and many other organs. It is one of the longest nerves in the body and it is 80 percent of our parasympathetic nervous system, also referred to as our ‘rest and digest’ system.

In 1921, a German physiologist named Otto Loewi discovered that when you stimulate the vagus nerve, it triggers the release of acetylcholine. Why is that important? Acetylcholine is like a tranquilizer that we have the power to tap into at any point through slow, long, deep breaths.

When we have a high vagal tone or healthy vagal tone that is indicative that when you inhale, you have a slight increase in your heartbeat, and when you exhale, you have a slight decrease in your heartbeat. It is also associated with better physical and mental well-being. Conversely, if you have a low vagal tone, this is associated with inflammation, heart disease, stroke, poor psychological well-being, and much more.

9 Ways To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve

Now let’s get into nine different ways that you can stimulate your vagus nerve to improve your vagal tone.

1) Cold exposure

Research shows that acute cold exposure will activate the cholinergic neurons that are part of the vagus nerve pathways, and it stimulates the vagus nerve. Cold showers are the easiest way to integrate this into your life. At the end of your shower, lower the temperature for 30 seconds of cold water and aim to do that consistently over time. That will,  in turn, decrease your fight or flight or your sympathetic pathways.

2) Deep, slow breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, that is. You’ll want to make sure that as you’re inhaling, you’re getting the full expansion of your abdomen 360 degrees. The key is a slow breath with a long exhale. You could start with a tempo of three seconds in and three seconds out. Over time, you want to begin to lengthen your exhalation as well as your inhalation. As you progress with your breath practice, the slower the exhale the more you will stimulate the vagus nerve and also create that relaxation response that we’re seeking. Especially in times of stress and anxiety, this should be a go-to. For some that have experienced trauma, however, this may not always be a safe place.

3) Chanting, singing, humming, and gargling

These are great ways to stimulate the vagus nerve because the muscles of the vocal cords are connected to the vagus nerve. This is a great way to improve vagal tone and increase heart rate variability, which is a sign of a healthy nervous system.

4) Probiotics

There are two specific strains, lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium,  that are directly related to the gut-brain connection as it relates to mood, anxiety, and depression. This is directly linked to the vagus nerve as well. It has been shown that by taking probiotics, you can improve the vagal tone and stimulation.

5) Meditation

This is a great way to improve vagal tone, decrease your stress response, and improve your mindfulness awareness over time. Register here for free weekly mindfulness sessions.

6) Omega-3’s

This comes from your fatty fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, etc. These are great foods that can help with improving vagal tone, overall mental health, and cognitive decline if there is any. Make sure to eat your fatty fish regularly to ensure you’ve got the appropriate amount of omega-3’s.

7) Massage

Make sure you get a regular massage or perform self-massage, to enhance the vagal activity and improve vagal tone. Things like foot reflexology are a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve. At the minimum, make sure to get your regular massage.

8) Exercise

Movement is such a powerful way to improve your vagal tone, to be more connected, and to enhance your sense of happiness. Making exercise and activities that you enjoy a big part of your life will help to improve your vagal tone and overall happiness.

9) Socializing and laughing

It’s such a great way to improve mood and enhance overall well-being. That of course is happening by enhancing the vagal activity and once again improving overall vagal tone. Make sure that despite the current circumstances in the world, you’re able to connect with people, socialize and laugh, and enjoy life as much as possible.

So there you have it, nine different ways that you can improve your vagal tone to make sure that you’re more connected to the world, you’re enhancing your physical and mental well-being, and you’re living life to the fullest.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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