The Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and it plays an important role in your nervous system function. It runs from the brainstem to the colon. Here is a very simple explanation of a very complex system: the vagus nerve is the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of restoring and rebuilding the internal body.

There are things we can do to stimulate the vagus nerve. Stimulating the vagus nerve can support a calming in our body and can shift the body away from a stress response. The following are some things that can stimulate the vagus nerve:

  • Hum: The vagus nerve passes by the vocal cords, so humming stimulates the nerve.
  • Practice Deep Breathing: The breath is the fastest way to stimulate the vagus nerve.
  • Movement: Stretching, yoga, and movement tones the vagus nerve.
  • Exposure to cold: Sympathetic nervous activity declines in the cold, so something like a cold shower, splashing cold water on your face stimulates the nerve.


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Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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