25 Jun

Hello from Heart to Heart!

Here is an article from the Gottman Institute that I thought might be helpful--the article is entitled Vagus, baby!

We can help ourselves and our kids by humming and signing!

See article below:

The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves and controls your parasympathetic nervous system. It is not to be confused with the Vegas nerve, which is the feeling of courage and daring one summons to do something completely out of character in Las Vegas.

Indeed, what happens in the vagus nerve, does not stay “in vagus.” It affects pretty much all your organs.

When your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, the vagus nerve steps up and calms you down. People with a stronger vagus response are more likely to recover quicker from injury, illness, and stress.

But don’t despair (“powerful vagus response. Must be nice.”) You can build up your vagal tone, which can increase your emotional resilience. Stimulating the vagus nerve releases oxytocin into your system, reducing stress and helping you calm down. 

There are several ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, but one of the simplest is to just focus on your breathing. Breathe into your diaphragm (rather than up higher into your chest) for five seconds. Hold it briefly, then exhale slowly to the count of 10. 

Another method? Humming or singing. If you find someone else’s humming or singing is getting on your nerves, you may want to strengthen your vagus response to deal with it. 

Start humming and signing more today,

Dr. Kathleen

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