Rest & digest

I have always been a go-getter, type A, sign up for all the extra credit type person. ⁣

Unfortunately, this keeps me perpetually in a “fight or flight” response. Research has demonstrated that this constant stressed out state impacts our immune system’s function. ⁣

One of the ways we can tap into our body’s innate ability to heal is to switch into our “rest & digest” mode. The main player in this response is our Vagus nerve. ⁣

As first year med students, we studied all of the ways this nerve impacts our health and then we kind of stopped paying attention to it. It only took me 12+ years to rediscover its importance.⁣

This one nerve connects our brain, heart, lungs and gut and is the longest nerve of our autonomic nervous system. ⁣

𝐒𝐨 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐕𝐚𝐠𝐮𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐚𝐩 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐨𝐝𝐞? Like a muscle, we can increase our parasympathetic tone through practice. ⁣
Here are some things to try:⁣
1.Connection with yourself ⁣
-Meditation or prayer. Try out different techniques to find which you prefer. ⁣
-Creativity- try art, crafting or writing!⁣
2.Connection with others- fostering meaningful relationships and community, embracing laughter! ⁣
3.Breath work: ⁣
-Deep slow breathing. We normally take 10-14 breaths per minute (bpm). Try decreasing this to 6 bpm and using your diaphragm (belly breathing). ⁣
-Singing, humming, chanting and gargling!⁣
4.Nourishing the body to help the mind. ⁣
-Probiotics- Lactobacilllus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium longum in particular⁣
-Prebiotics- feeding the good gut bugs helps keep them happy!⁣
-Omega 3 Fatty acids- increasing the proportion of anti-inflammatory fats through dietary changes can also help increase vagal tone. ⁣
5.Movement- exercise and body work such as massage are also great ways to tap into relaxation. ⁣
Yoga and tai chi incorporate many of these technique together!⁣

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