An overview of how the vagus nerve works, why stimulating it and increasing vagal tone can benefit us.

When stressed or anxious, our bodies respond bygetting in a ‘fight or flight’ state. But moving away from this state may be difficult. That is why we need the vagus nerve, which is found in the parasympathetic system. When stimulated, it raises the vagal tone, which leads to a reduced heart rate that relaxes the nervous system, making the body calm down once again. You can stimulate the vagus nerve in the following ways;

Deep and slower breathing

Did you know that taking six deep breaths in a minute can ease stress? Therefore, inhale deeply from the diaphragm, and hold. Then, exhale making it long and slow. This will stimulate your vagus and cause relaxation.

Cold exposure

Exposure to cold is a great way of calming you down. Try getting into a very cold shower for around 30 seconds. You will notice how good it will feel. You can later do that for more periods to enjoy the result.

Chanting or singing

Singing, chanting, or humming stimulates your vagus nerve because it is connected to the vocal muscles and cords. I tell my clients to sing if they can when stressed to relieve the emotion.


Meditation is known for increasing positivity. It promotes vagal tone release and enhances positive feelings. Research also noticed that meditation can lower the parasympathetic nerve activity and elevate vagal tone.


Always choose an exercise you enjoy when feeling anxious and want relief. You can weight lift, run, or swim because exercise improves the brain’s growth hormone and reduces cognitive decline.

Anastasia Filipenko is a health and wellness psychologist, dermatolist and a freelance writer. She frequently covers beauty and skincare, food trends and nutrition, health and fitness and relationships. When she's not trying out new skincare products, you'll find her taking a cycling class, doing yoga, reading in the park, or trying a new recipe.

Ieva Kubiliute is a psychologist and a sex and relationships advisor and a freelance writer. She's also a consultant to several health and wellness brands. While Ieva specialises in covering wellness topics ranging from fitness and nutrition, to mental wellbeing, sex and relationships and health conditions, she has written across a diverse range of lifestyle topics, including beauty and travel. Career highlights so far include: luxury spa-hopping in Spain and joining an £18k-a-year London gym. Someone’s got to do it! When she’s not typing away at her desk—or interviewing experts and case studies, Ieva winds down with yoga, a good movie and great skincare (affordable of course, there’s little she doesn’t know about budget beauty). Things that bring her endless joy: digital detoxes, oat milk lattes and long country walks (and sometimes jogs).

Mental health expert
MS, University of Latvia

I am deeply convinced that each patient needs a unique, individual approach. Therefore, I use different psychotherapy methods in my work. During my studies, I discovered an in-depth interest in people as a whole and the belief in the inseparability of mind and body, and the importance of emotional health in physical health. In my spare time, I enjoy reading (a big fan of thrillers) and going on hikes.

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