The Vagus Nerve and its power in healing anxiety and trauma
Have you heard of the Vagus Nerve and its power in healing anxiety and trauma? Polyvagal theory is relatively new and identifies a specific network of nerves within our central nervous systems that are responsible for helping our body and mind release the fight or flight mechanism and return to a state of calm and peace. There are many ways to activate the vagus nerve. Just google it and you’ll get lots of good ideas. I’ll share with you my favorites…read more.
Essentially, the most powerful ways to activate the vagus nerve is through Sensation and Connection. When we’re anxious we tend to lose awareness of our bodies. Have you ever noticed that? Our mind overtakes us as the brain frantically tries to figure out how to survive the perceived threat. We can counteract this by consciously bringing our awareness to the physical sensations in our body and how it is connected to our environment in the present moment. When your anxious (and in any moment for that matter) see if you can feel where your body is contacting the support beneath it. Feel the very simple sensations of where your bottom and legs contact the chair beneath you. Simply tune in to the feeling of pressure on the bottoms of your feet as they contact the floor. Nothing fancier than that! When we contact what’s supporting us that unconscious vagus nerve will register that we are supported and safe in this moment. We don’t have to try any harder than that. No trying to calm down or change your emotional state. Just feel the sensations! Then you can add your breath and simply notice the physical sensations of your breathing.
Next, with your eyes open, look around the room you’re in and really see the objects in it. Smell the smells, listen to the sounds in the room. Feel the quality of air on your skin and notice the temperature. This is a form of connection with our environment and will help our vagus nerve perceive that we are ok in the moment and it can come to rest.
It’s also powerful to find and object or another being, human or animal that brings us comfort and engage with that being. If you can hold a beloved pet, a teddy bear or feel connected (physically or emotionally) to this being your nervous system can calm. Remember to keep it simple!
I would love to hear what you experience with this exercise!