Our well-being is important and yes, it should be! We do things daily to take care of ourselves. Some of us take care of our natural body by eating well and perhaps exercising too. We do various things for our health, our body, our mind, and our personal well-being. Thinking of well-being, our brain affects our thinking, our mood and how we feel. How are we doing in this time, are we anxious or perhaps feeling bleak and depressed?
Ever heard about the vagus nerve? The brain and the brain stem is where the vagus nerve begins its route. Within the brain, this nerve controls anxiety and depression. Studies show that it could be responsible for providing the gut instinct that could be fear or stimulating anxiety that makes you feel sick to your stomach in certain situations. This causes some form of communication with the brain that is carried back and alerts one to dangers that may be occurring.
Stimulating the vagus benefits your autonomic nervous system and mental health. When stimulated, you feel calmer, more compassionate and clearer. Healthy vagal tone means emotional regulation, greater connection and better physical health as well. Increasing the vagal tone can help to overcome anxiety and depression and can also help to better manage them when they arise. This can lead to long-term improvements in mood, well-being, and resilience. We know that our mind is very powerful. We should take care and practice good mental health. You can start by sending a message to your body that it’s time to relax and de-stress.
I have practised breathing exercises and can report that this does help. My daughter and I often, jokingly, use the phrase “inhalar-exhalar” (stolen from Jane the Virgin) when we feel the other person is overreacting in a situation.
One of the main ways that you can stimulate the healthy function of the vagus nerve is through deep, slow belly breathing.
- Breathe more slowly (aim for six breaths per minute).
- Breathe more deeply, from the belly. Think about expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage as you inhale.
- Exhale longer than you inhale
I’m fully aware that anxiety and depression is a reality for so many. Many of us have also experienced fear and trepidations about returning to “normal” during these unprecedented times. I for sure experienced moments like this, that has felt like a life time. We can support one another, and I want to urge us all to do so. Start by showing compassion towards one another and most importantly, let us always reach out in love! PS! When in distress make use of your support – reach out where someone will HEAR you. Make use of your country’s mental health support groups