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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5 Minute Facelift | Vagus Nerve | Cranial Nerves

Did you know that you can do a five-minute facelift that will make you feel completely refreshed, revitalized, and also bring you to a state of social engagement by stimulating the cranial nerves and the relaxation response? Do you ever feel like your face just feels like it needs a little bit of a lift, but you don’t want to do anything cosmetic? Well, this is exactly where you want to start. This can make a huge difference, and it’s recommended to perform this on one side of your face before the other side, so you can see the noticeable difference.

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Six Benefits of the 5-Minute Facelift

  1. Ignite the Relaxation Response

You will stimulate the cranial nerves that share the same nuclei with the vagus nerve. This will ignite the relaxation response.

2. Improve Your Face Circulation

You will improve the circulation of your face. Essentially, you are enhancing blood flow, and you are also moving the lymph.

3. Put Life Back into the Middle 1/3 of your Face

It’s going to put life back into the middle one-third of your face. Essentially, you can notice a shift in your eyes, in between the eyes, the forehead, as well as the mouth.

4. Brings Youthful Quality to your Face

It brings this youthful quality to your face allowing your expressions to come a little bit more naturally especially with smiling. That makes you a little more responsive with your interactions with others.

5. Makes Your Cheekbone Prominent and Softer

It makes flat cheekbones a little bit more prominent and higher cheekbones a little bit softer.

6. Brings You to a State of Social Engagement

Because it is creating this relaxation response, and you are stimulating the cranial nerves that attribute to facial expression, this will bring you to a state of social engagement which means that you’re more connected, more mindful, and grounded. This allows you to interact with the world better, and it allows you to be more associated with yourself and the greater world.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Start on one side of your face. Come right outside of the nose and assess the tissue. Move it up and move it down, see which way it is not moving as well. Hold very lightly just on this outer surface of the skin so this doesn’t move. Just gently hold it again very softly to start and hold it until you feel a release— until you feel like the tissue just starts to soften and it becomes a little bit more elastic. That could be 30 seconds up to two minutes.
  2. Now move in towards the midline and then away. Figure out where there’s more resistance. Push into that resistance until you feel like you start to release.
  3. Now with a circle, go in one direction and the other direction. Still, just a moderate pressure where that velcro feel is. This time, hold this until you sigh, swallow, or yawn—and that is a sign of the relaxation of the nervous system.
  4. Lastly, one more time, go in a little deeper. Move through both layers in a circular motion until where you can almost feel the bone underneath. Find the resistance. Hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  5. Now move right inside the eyebrow and begin with assessing the tissue up and down.  Remember, light pressure here. Then, move side to side, and then sink in a little deeper. Figure out what that feels like for you.
  6. The next step is to do your circle, find the resistance, and hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  7. Now, go a little deeper, feeling the tissue, making your circle, finding the resistance, and then once again hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  8. Take a moment to check-in. Look at your one half of the face, maybe take a picture, look at the mirror, so that you can see the difference.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

This is a really powerful way to create a lot of benefits in a short amount of time. Not to mention that it feels amazing!

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.

Other things that may interest you:

IS YOUR GUT PREVENTING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS?

How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN