The vagus nerve is a large nerve that connects your brain to your heart, lungs, and digestive tract. It has been called your body’s “communication superhighway”.
The vagus nerve interfaces with the parasympathetic nervous system which operates the “rest and digest” element of your nervous system.
Lockdowns due to the government’s covid response are a perfect storm for your vagus nerve which can cause increased stress, anxiety and depression. Less exercise, less human interaction, lower oxygen and mental anguish from mask wearing, less time spent with loved ones, working from home in isolation, and more time at home on the couch can all contribute to vagus nerve damage.
As governments continue to measure their success or failure by a single metric only – the number of covid cases – they are neglecting to consider the impacts of covid restrictions on nearly all other elements of health that contribute to the overall wellbeing of humanity. The vagus nerve sits front row and center at the core of this unprecedented stress on our wellbeing.
The Vagus Nerve and Human Social Interaction
Quoted From Psychology Today, emphasis ours:
“your vagus nerve is the prime driving force of the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates your “rest-and-digest” or “tend-and-befriend” responses. On the flip side, to maintain homeostasis, the sympathetic nervous system drives your “fight-or-flight” responses. Ideally, within your autonomic nervous system, the ongoing tug of war between these two polar opposite mechanisms creates a “yin-yang” type of harmony marked by homeostatic balance.
From an evolutionary perspective, one could speculate that our ancestors relied on the sympathetic nervous system to kickstart cortisol production and other neurobiological responses necessary to hunt, gather, and ward off enemies. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system probably relied on oxytocin to fortify our innate drive to nurture close-knit human bonds, procreate, and build survival-based cooperative and supportive communities, as well as romantic partnerships.
Unfortunately, the Toffleresque “future shock” of the 21st-century digital age (marked by too much change in too short a time) is causing many of our ancient evolutionary biological systems to short-circuit. All too often, social media and other modern-day factors are reducing face-to-face social connectedness and exacerbating feelings of perceived social isolation or being an outsider who is unworthy of love and belonging. “
How To Activate Your Vagus Nerve
The good news is, there are some easy things you can do to help regenerate and rejuvenate your vagus nerve.
In this video by One Yoga, Lorraine Taylor leads you through a 30 minute yoga exercise designed to help you activate your vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system:
And this video by Sukie Baxter – Whole Body Revolution shows you three simple exercises you can do to help stimulate your vagus nerve: