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10 Vagus Nerve Exercises for Anxiety and Better Mental Health

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Known as your secret weapon for combatting stress, the vagus nerve is worth the hype within the scientific and psychological world. It’s a cranial nerve that counteracts your fight-flight-or-freeze response, and when it’s stimulated, you really feel extra relaxed and happy. Even more, it builds your resiliency, serving to you to bounce again faster from challenges and trauma. Sounds great, right? It is, and this text will dive into a number of vagus nerve exercises for anxiety to extend your overall wellbeing.

What Is The Vagus Nerve?

Before we discuss the vagus nerve, it’s important to address a key component; the fight-flight-or-freeze response. When your physique senses danger, it begins releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and shuts down your different systems to survive. However, we often encounter triggers that don’t allow us the chance to run and hide, like having a disagreement with your boss or getting cut off in traffic. Therefore, experiencing chronic stress over time can negatively have an effect on our bodily and psychological well being over time. But thankfully, the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve within the body, counteracts this stress response. It connects the mind to the physique and prompts the parasympathetic nervous system. Because of this secret weapon, you’re able to calm down simpler after an anxious situation. But it’s important to stimulate the vagus nerve through exercises to advertise greater wellbeing and rectify the anxiety you experience.

10 Vagus Nerve Exercises for Anxiety

1. Coldwater

Just take it from Wim Hoff, additionally known because the Iceman, who set a number of Guinness World Records for coaching his physique to withstand low temperatures – chilly water is wonderful for your bodily and psychological health. Whether you take a chilly bathe or soak your face in an ice bath, the frigid water shocks your sympathetic nervous system, serving to you forget your worries. But if ice swimming appears too extreme, you can additionally apply a chilly compress to your face to assist counteract your anxiety. It works!

2. Meditation

From reducing negative feelings to lowering blood pressure, meditation is certainly the gift that retains on giving. But the most well-known benefit, stress reduction, is largely due to vagus stimulation. When you meditate, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and increase vagus tone. As a result, you leave your meditation for beginners feeling happier, extra relaxed, and empowered to tackle your day.

3. Laughter

Laughter is certainly the best medicine, and this quote additionally connects to the vagus nerve. Especially when you share a laugh with your loved ones, you really feel safe, supported, and in an environment the place you can be your genuine self. These advantages aid your body’s ability to reduce stress and lift your mood. So, seize your friends and watch a feel-good film or comedy to laugh your anxiety away.

4. Foot massage

Giving your self a foot therapeutic massage could additionally be the very final factor you need to do when you’re stressed, however hear us out. Foot therapeutic massage is an act of self-care and self-love that prompts your vagus nerve. Even only a couple of minutes of making use of pressure to the soles of your feet will promote a way of wellbeing. You can additionally gently rotate your ankle or stretch your toes again and forth for a similar calming effect. So, when you’re actually anxious and nothing appears to help, redirect your consideration to your feet for a loving practice.

5. Voice play

Have you ever noticed you really feel higher after you hum or sing? That for simply an instant, whereas immersed in a favourite song, your troubles no longer exist? This occurs because activating your vocal cords actually stimulates the vagus nerve. So, when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed, play your favourite tunes and sing alongside for a temper boost.

6. Breathing methods

When you’re anxious, your coronary heart rate will increase and your breath turns into rapid and shallow. But lengthening and deepening your breath stimulates your vagus nerve and tells your mind there is no danger. In fact, slow breathing exercises decreased physiological stress in a pattern of older adults. After practicing breathing, the participants felt extra assured in managing their anxiety. Try field breathing for a calming effect;

  • Slowly inhale as you count to four 
  • Then maintain your breath for 4 seconds
  • Next, exhale through your mouth for four
  • And repeat these steps till you really feel relaxed 

7. Positive self-talk

One of the best vagus nerve exercises for anxiety is positive self-talk. In fact, utilizing third-party pronouns can assist you distance your self out of your intrusive thoughts whereas deactivating your stress response. For example, when you’re anxious, repeat, ” Hey (Fname), you bought this. There is no hazard present, and you, my friend, are safe”. Speaking to your self in a quiet tone or inside your head helps recenter your consideration and floor you within the current moment. Give it a try.

8. OM chanting

Considered a sacred practice in Hinduism, Buddhism, and different faiths, om combines the advantages of voice play and meditation. Indeed, when repeated, it prompts the vagus nerve and permits you to enter deep meditation. You get up feeling extra relaxed, centered, and peaceful. It’s additionally nice to fuse it with your different meditation practices, like breathing exercises for anxiety or sitting meditation for a highly effective vagus nerve routine.


ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) appears to be enjoyable for everyone. Even influencers creating ASMR skincare and ASMR mukbang movies really feel each calming and entertaining. But why? Due to sensory input, the sounds interestingly ship tingles down your neck and back, calming your nervous system. So, whether or not it’s the sound of animals consuming or an influencer shaving soap, ASMR prompts the vagus nerve and can reduce your anxiety. 

10. Improving your diet

Do you know the saying, “Your intestine is your second brain?” It’s no shock if it rings a bell. Inspired by the vagus nerve, this quote relays the significance of our intestine health. In fact, your second mind has a name; the enteric nervous system and its main connection travels again and forth alongside the vague nerve and your gut. By feeding your intestine probiotics and fiber, you’re able to create extra wholesome bacteria, which results in much less stress, higher decision-making, and improved emotional regulation! Science is fascinating.

The vagus nerve is your body’s secret weapon to calming your stress response and serving to you become a happier you. Therefore, follow a few of those vagus nerve exercises for anxiety to examine whether or not any of them make you really feel extra relaxed. If they don’t work and your anxiety feels too overwhelming to manage, it’s worth talking to a psychological well being skilled for support.

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