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The Vagus what?!

The Vagus Nerve: Your Body’s Secret Superpower

Hey there, wellness warriors! In our third monthly newsletter we are checking out the magical world of the vagus nerve. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry—you’re not the only one, it was new to me too. This unsung hero deserves a spotlight, and we’re here to give it some well-deserved attention!

First things first, what the heck is the vagus nerve? Imagine a multitasking superhero with a fancy cape (and maybe a coffee in hand because, let’s be real, multitasking is hard). The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve, and it’s got a lot on its plate. Running from your brain all the way down to your gut, it plays a crucial role in regulating your heart rate, digestion, immune response, and even your mood. What an overachiever! I'm lucky to literally get one thing done in a day!

What does this super nerve do?

  1. The vagus nerve helps keep your heart rate in check. Think of it as your heart’s personal trainer, making sure it doesn’t go off the rails.

  2. From your esophagus to your intestines, the vagus nerve keeps things moving smoothly. It’s like having a built-in traffic controller for your digestive system.

  3. Feeling stressed? The vagus nerve is on it! It helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you down and promotes relaxation. Namaste, vagus nerve.

  4. This nerve is like your body’s very own wellness coach, helping to modulate inflammation and keep your immune response in tip-top shape.

Vagus Nerve and the Gut-Brain Axis

The vagus nerve is a key player in the gut-brain axis. What’s that, you ask? It’s the two-way communication highway between your gut and your brain. Ever had a “gut feeling” or butterflies in your stomach before a big event? That’s your vagus nerve at work, relaying messages between your gut and your brain faster than you can say “what did I come in here for?"

Now the important stuff...

Want to activate your vagus nerve so you get all those amazing benefits?

Guess what... it's back to the cold showers and polar bear plunges...

Though there are many ways to stimulate your vagus nerve, one of the quickest and sure fire ways to get things moving and pumping is freezing your patootey off... or your face.

Short-term exposure to cold temperatures can stimulate the vagus nerve, which can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Some ways to stimulate the vagus nerve with ice water include:

  • Face immersion Immerse your forehead, eyes, and at least two-thirds of your cheeks in cold water. You can start with a few seconds and gradually increase the duration.

  • Cold shower Finish your shower with a cold-water rinse, starting with 30 seconds and increasing over time.

  • Ice cube Hold an ice cube to your ear.

  • Cold compress Place a cold compress on the back of your neck or chest for several seconds to up to 15 minutes

There's also Deep Belly Breathing (just in case you have an aversion to the patootey freeze like me)

Deep belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, activating your parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. your “rest and digest” mode). It’s like sending your body a love letter saying, “Hey, chill out! You’ve got this.”

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose: Fill your belly with air like you’re inflating a balloon. Feel your belly rise and your chest stay relatively still.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth: Let the air out gently, feeling your belly fall. You can even make a soft “whooshing” sound to help you relax.

  • Repeat: Continue this deep belly breathing for 5-10 minutes. Feel the stress melt away and the relaxation set in.

In Other News...

We hope you'll join us for The Pink Flamingos Concert for Edgewood's 25th Anniversary Celebration on July 3rd, 5:00pm at the Wildlife west Nature Park!! Let's shake things up and get groovy with five fabulous reasons why dancing is your ticket to a happier, healthier life

If you need encouragement here are some reason why you should join us:

Keep Your Noggin Nimble

Dancing is like a high-intensity workout for your brain. When you’re learning new moves and sequences, your brain is busy creating new neural connections, which keeps your mind sharp and agile. Bye bye brain fog...Hello flawless moonwalk!

Get Fit

Dancing is a full-body workout that gets your heart pumping, muscles toning, and calories burning!

Mood Magic

When you dance, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the dynamic duo that makes you feel happy and relaxed.

Shake it off

Dancing helps reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels and giving you a chance to forget your worries and just enjoy the moment. It’s like hitting the reset button on your day.

Til next time!

Be well,

Lauri xoxo

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