You’ve got a nerve!
You may have heard the word mentioned in many phrases over the years….
‘You’re a bag of nerves’
You’re getting on my nerves’
‘You have nerves of steel’
‘You’ve hit a raw nerve’
….but what are your nerves and why are they so important in your day to day wellbeing.
What are nerves?
Nobody knows exactly how many nerves there are in the human body but we do know these millions and trillions of amazing nerves fundamentally form the body’s nervous system. They cleverly send and receive messages via electrical impulses between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body. Without our nerves we simply wouldn’t function.
The central nervous system(The brain, spinal cord and nerves) and the peripheral nervous system(sensory neurons, clusters of neurons and other nerves that connect to one another, as well as the central nervous system) all work together to ensure your body functions to the best of its ability.
All of the nerves and neurons within the human body are equally remarkable. However, one of the most important nerves in the body is the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves and is often described as the body’s communication superhighway. The vagus nerve is linked to vital organs within the body and cleverly sends signals from organs, such as the liver, heart, lungs and gut to and from the brain. The vagus nerve is also the main contributor of the parasympathetic nervous system, which essentially ensures the body’s basic (but vital!) functions continue to work as they should.
An active vagus nerve will help:
- Maintain a steady heart rate
- Reduce body’s response to stress
- Improve digestion
- Improve mood and relieve depression
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce anxiety
- Aid weight loss
Activate your vagus nerve
You’ll be pleased to hear there are some simple and effective ways to activate your vagus nerve.
- Singing, humming and gargling – the nerve is connected to the vocal chords these activities can activate these muscles in turn activating your vagus nerve
- Exposure to the cold– whether that be a cold shower, splashing your face with cold water or venturing out on a cold day without a coat…it has been proven to lower your sympathetic response and increase your parasympathetic activity via the vagus nerve
- Gut health – maintaining and supporting a healthy gut will in turn support your vagus nerve. There is a lot of research to support that our gut is a key modulator of the immune and nervous system. Bone broth (we personally prefer this one by Dr Gus), reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics, reducing sugary foods and alcohol intake will all help improve your gut health.
- Deep breathing and stretching– taking time each day to mindfully and consciously breathe deeply into the stomach area whilst laid in specific stretched poses can help trigger the vagus nerve.
I have created a range of exercises to use with the Posture Corrector Pack to help activate your vagus nerve. Use code VN20 to receive bespoke exercises, 20% discount and free delivery.