One of the things I’m most frequently asked about is how to reduce anxiety.
With the current situation unfolding, we all need to look after ourselves and make sure we are not projecting our fears onto our children too.
Here are a few simple things you can try, almost anywhere, which will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and help you to feel calmer:
- Music – Find a recording of Mozart’s K448 – Sonata for two pianos and stop everything else. Sit in a chair and listen. This piece of music has been proven to reduce stress – and even the occurrence of seizures in kids with epilepsy!
- Breathing – Try breathing in through the nose to the count of 4, and out through the mouth to 8. Breathe from your belly rather than ribs!
- Gargling – Try very vigorous gargling – to the point where tears start to form in your eyes. When you start getting tears, it means your vagus nerve is firing. Try and keep it up for a few seconds and then relax
- Hum – this activates laryngeal muscles, which get signals directly from the superior and recurrent laryngeal branches of the vagus nerve. If done for long enough, this allows us to control our breath, slow down thoughts and enter deep relaxation
- Chant – chanting “om” stimulates vagus activity to the digestive tract, and is said to improve digestion and inflammation levels in the body. Chanting “om” following stressful events is an excellent way to reduce stress levels
- Laugh – laughter is extremely effective in improving mood and heart rate variability. This is because we use our diaphragms when we laugh – unless we are laughing nervously, in which laughter is shallow and comes from the ribs. Belly laughs are an easy vagus nerve workout! Personally, I have a couple of video clips that I can’t watch without crying with laughter – mainly Reeves and Mortimer sketches, and also something too inappropriate to discuss in this post, but it’s a scene from The Inbetweeners.
- Socialising – socialising and connecting with others is SO important. Being solitary, lonely and disconnected from others severely affects our mood and health. Being around others helps us laugh more, which, as we’ve just established, helps us keep our vagus nerve regulated…
- Yoga and Meditation – PROVEN to tone the vagus nerve and reduce stress. I was even discussing this with a respiratory doctor a few weeks ago. It is only your logical left brain telling you it doesn’t work!
All the above are excellent things to do WHILE doing or BEFORE the Safe and Sound Protocol, by the way. They help regulate the vagus nerve, which has a calming effect on all the systems in your body.
If you want to dig a bit deeper and help reduce your anxiety permanently, you will be welcome in clinic once things are looking more “normal” again.