Top 5 vagus nerve hacks to do at your desk

Have you ever felt stressed or anxious but didn’t have the time or space to go for a walk or do a full meditation? Well, you’re not alone! Many of us face this challenge in our busy lives. The good news is that there are simple vagus nerve hacks that you can do at your desk to quickly regulate your nervous system, no matter the situation.

In today’s blog post, we will share five easy techniques that you can try right now to activate your vagus nerve and promote relaxation. While these techniques are not a replacement for physical activity, they can be a quick and effective way to calm your mind and body in a pinch.

So, grab a seat, take a deep breath, and let’s dive into these five simple vagus nerve hacks that you can start incorporating into your daily routine today. And don’t forget to check out our other resources on vagus nerve exercises and understanding this fascinating aspect of our nervous system!

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5 vagus nerve hacks to do at your desk

1. The Salamander

One of my all-time favorite exercises for improving neck mobility, reducing pain and stiffness, and regulating the nervous system is called the Salamander. It’s a combination of Stanley Rosenberg’s Salamander exercise and some modifications I’ve found to be effective for many of my patients and clients.

To do the Salamander, interlace your fingers and place your hands at the back of your head on the occipital area. Next, side bend your upper body while looking in the opposite direction with your eyes. If this causes discomfort, such as headaches, eye pain, or dizziness, adjust your vision to a soft gaze. Hold this position for about 30 seconds before returning to the center and switching to the other side.

During the exercise, you may notice a yawn or a swallow, which is a sign of nervous system relaxation. After completing the Salamander, test your neck’s range of motion, and you’ll see an immediate improvement.

The Salamander works by providing neurological input from our eyes and hands to the brain stem, where the vagus nerve and the spinal accessory nerve are located. This stimulation increases blood flow to the area, which helps relax the neck and nervous system.

I highly recommend giving the Salamander a try if you’re experiencing neck discomfort or nervous system dysregulation. It’s a simple yet effective exercise that can make a big difference in how you feel.

2. Salivating

This is one of my favorite exercises because it can be quite effective, and no one knows what you’re doing. It’s a self-limiting vagus nerve exercise, meaning it can only have a positive effect, and nothing can necessarily go wrong.

Generating a copious amount of saliva is, in fact, a parasympathetic response. If you have trouble generating saliva, it can indicate that you might be in a fight-or-flight state. However, with a little effort, you can proceed with the exercise.

First, place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and press against it through your mouth. Keep pressing against the teeth, and you’ll start to generate some saliva. You can also think about something appealing, like a juicy lemon or orange, to stimulate saliva production.

Once you’re able to produce saliva, let your tongue bathe in it for a while before ultimately swallowing it. Swallowing is a sign of nervous system relaxation. The pharyngeal branch of the vagus nerve innervates the back of the throat, and this exercise stimulates it. It’s typically a self-limiting exercise, making it easy and beneficial to do.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Salivate

3. Breathing Technique

In this technique, I will be discussing a basic breathing method that involves a short inhale and an extended exhale. While there are many different breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing and box breathing, it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs and situation.

If you’re feeling a bit anxious at work due to having multiple tasks to complete and want to calm your system down, this method is great for you. On the other hand, if you need to be alert and focused for an upcoming meeting, box breathing might be more suitable.

For this technique, imagine taking a small inhale and exhaling for about double the length of the inhale. There’s no exact time that you need to follow, but the extended exhalation will stimulate the vagus nerve, which releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, resulting in a relaxation response. The vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, so practicing this extended exhale is an effective way to quickly calm your nervous system.

However, some people may feel a sense of air hunger when attempting this technique. This happens when your body struggles to maintain the proper amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. If you experience this, simply return to normal breathing for at least a minute before trying again. Even doing three breaths in this manner can be a powerful way to calm your system. Feel free to check out my videos on breathing for more techniques to suit your needs.

Watch: Best breathing hacks

4. Hand Reflexology

Hand reflexology is one of my favorite techniques, and it has its roots in Eastern medicine. There are specific reflexology points all over the body, including one on the hand and another on the bottom of the foot, that are related to the vagus nerve.

If you’re sitting at your desk, it’s really easy to try this technique out – I’ve even done it while in the car, using the same hand. To begin, locate the reflexology point on the inside of your pinky finger. You can work on either side, so choose the one that feels more comfortable for you. Starting from this position, you can begin by making slow circles or rubbing back and forth. Then, you can apply more pressure to go deeper or just use a feather-light touch.

You don’t have to use all of these techniques – you can try one, two, or all three of them, depending on what works best for you. If you don’t have time to use both hands, you can just use your thumb to apply pressure.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will have the same response to this technique. If you don’t feel anything right away, don’t worry – it might just mean that your nervous system isn’t responding at the moment. Give it time and be patient. The key is to try it out for yourself and see if it works for you.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

5. The Ear Pull

The ear pull is an incredibly powerful technique that is both a vagus nerve exercise and a craniosacral exercise. To perform the ear pull, grab the earlobe and gently pull it back and out while holding that position. You will likely have a response almost immediately, and you can hold that position until you feel satisfied. If you prefer, you can hold the position for about a minute or two.

Another technique that you can try is massaging inside the ear. This technique is particularly powerful because the vagus nerve has branches in the ear, making it one of the direct ways to stimulate it. By pulling the ear, it influences fluids in your brain and affects the membranes as a craniosacral technique.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Auricular Ear Release

The Bottom Line

My patients have experienced a lot of positive responses with these techniques, and I hope they can be helpful to you as well. Don’t forget to check out all of my vagus nerve exercises and videos for more techniques to try.

I hope that you will give these a shot, and just remember that this is a way for you to begin to learn about your own nervous system—how to regulate and control your state.

If this was helpful, please give it a like and a share. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Thank you!

If you’re looking for support on your health journey, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us for a discovery session.

Other things that might interest you:

What if vagus nerve hacks aren’t working

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

How Your Vagus Nerve Affects Your Gut Health

Best breathing hacks

Breathing — it’s something we all do without even thinking about it. But what if we told you that it could be your superpower? That’s right! Mastering your breath can lead to a host of benefits for your health and overall well-being.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about one of my absolute favorite topics: breathing is your superpower. We’ll also explore some simple yet effective tips to help you improve your airway, optimize your breath, and ultimately enhance your life. So sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.

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Breathing Overview

It’s important to remember that we breathe 25,000 times a day, making it our most frequent activity. Breathing is our first motor program, and we do it both consciously and unconsciously. Therefore, we have a significant amount of control over our breath. However, we should not solely focus on the amount of oxygen we inhale. We should also consider the incredible gas exchange that occurs and our ability to maintain the right amount of carbon dioxide in our bloodstream.

Assessing Your Breathing

The first thing that we can do is the control pause test. However, you should only perform this test if you feel safe doing it and you do not have any medical conditions that may warrant medical clearance or supervision. It’s important to make sure that it’s appropriate for you.

Here’s a brief explanation of the test: take a natural inhale through your nose and out through your nose. After exhaling, pinch your nostrils and hold your breath and count until you feel the urge to breathe again. Then, take another inhale through your nose. The purpose of the test is to identify how much time it takes for you to have your very first urge to breathe, or sense of air hunger.

If the time is under 10 seconds, it is considered a severe breathing impairment that should be evaluated. If it’s between 10 and 20 seconds, it is still a significant breathing impairment. Ideally, you want the time to be above 30 seconds for optimal breath and airway function for life and health.

If you’re experiencing breathing issues such as sleep apnea, congestion, chronic allergies and sinusitis, chronic pain, anxiety, or depression, they can be associated with breathing difficulties and airway dysfunction.

Breathing Hacks

First, I would recommend assessing your breathing, as we just went through. But beyond that, there are so many things you can do to optimize your breathing.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When you breathe diaphragmatically, you inhale through your nose with your tongue on the roof of your mouth and gently touching your top teeth and your abdomen expanding 360 degrees. This means your rib cage also expands laterally in the back, which is called posterolateral expansion. This expansion creates intra-abdominal pressure, which provides core stability for optimal force transfer, posture, and even mood and nervous system benefits.

While we may not always achieve full expansion, it’s crucial to consistently feel that breath pattern throughout the day. We breathe 20 to 25,000 times daily, so understanding the basic pattern of diaphragmatic breathing is essential. There is no sense in doing advanced breathing techniques if this is faulty.

Other Breathing Techniques

While diaphragmatic breathing is fundamental, many other breathing variations, such as 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, resonant breathing, and coherent breathing, can also benefit your breathing. However, it’s essential to first understand and master the basic diaphragmatic breathing technique.


Okay, now that you’ve assessed your breathing, let’s focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. Check if your chest is moving or if your abdomen is expanding. You have already done the control pause test, so you now have an idea of how difficult it is for you to breathe. If you experience many pelvic floor issues and cannot get your breath down to the pelvis, we need to investigate further.

There are various types of airway dysfunctions, including small nasal valves, a deviated septum, a small airway, or jaw misalignment. If the jaw is pressing back or protruding, it can contribute to a shift in your airway. Other potential issues include large tonsils, adenoids, and sinus problems. These obstructions can hinder proper breathing, so addressing them is important.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your breathing. To get started, let’s take a look at my little toolkit.

Xlear Nasal Spray

One highly recommended nasal spray is Xlear. It is a saline and Xylitol spray that helps to kill bacteria while keeping the nasal cavity moist. Using Xlear twice daily can help protect your immune system and open up your airway up to 35% compared to saline alone.

In case of exposure to allergies, sickness, or illness, you can use Xlear Rescue Nasal Spray. It has oregano, parsley, and xylitol, which can help kill bacteria and keep the nasal cavity healthy. This is meant for short-term use. If you are someone who experiences these things frequently, this is a must!


Mutes are small nasal dilators that can help open up the airway by up to 38 percent. These devices are placed in the nose, especially during sleep, to open up the airway from the nasal valve perspective. Mutes can improve sleep and breathing, especially for people who suffer from a dry throat or constant sickness.

Mouth Taping

If using Mutes works well, you can try expanding to mouth taping. Consider this an evaluation at first; once you’ve evaluated the nasal valves and they are successful, then you can explore the taping during waking hours only at first. Other options if Mutes are unsuccessful could be Breathe Right strips.   If you have assessed that it was a huge improvement, you could try mouth taping.

Nexcare is a good brand for sensitive skin and works really well. You can try it during the day to see if you can tolerate it. However, if you have a severe nasal obstruction or airway obstruction, you may not be able to tolerate it, and it’s not safe. So, it’s important to be objective about your analysis and know that great resources are available to evaluate your airway and take the next steps to know exactly what’s happening in your airway.

Don’t Settle for Poor Breathing

Breathing is the foundation of life, movement, and overall health. If you’re not breathing properly, and you’re not nasal breathing, there are so many implications on your health. So, you want to make sure that you assess your breathing objectively and find the right support to help you on your breathing journey. This could look very different for many people, whether it’s orthotics, mouth taping, or getting their deviated septum repaired.

Don’t settle for just being a mouth breather or snoring at night. Think about the implications for your health!

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Please reach out to us for any help with your breathing, health, or movement. We would love the opportunity to help you improve your energy.

I hope that this was helpful. If you love eggs, definitely give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Other things that might interest you:

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

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