Our Anti-Stress Superpower
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class or practiced guided meditation, chances are, you’ve instantly felt a sense of calm when instructed to regulate your breath; “take a deep breath in. A long. . . slow, breath out. Continue like this; the breath long, slow, even and full”. Even as you read these instructions, you might begin to notice your belly, ribs and collarbones expanding as you breathe in; your body relaxing a little as you breathe out. This breath technique of deepening and slowing both the inhale and the exhale is simple in practice, but profound in the effect it’s having on the body, and may just be one way to access our very own superpower to effectively manage stress.
It’s not uncommon to physically feel the body’s response to regulating breath; your muscles begin to relax, the mind may even become quieter and you could experience a sense of calm. But, what you may not have realized, is that by regulating the breath in this way you are igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and toning, possibly the most important nerve, in the body. The Vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve, traveling from the brainstem through the body connecting to just about every organ, influencing their function along the way, while also controlling part of our autonomic nervous system, our rest and digest response.
What yoga practitioners and meditators have been studying for thousands of years has recently gotten a lot of mainstream attention. According to the New York Times, “TicTok videos with the hashtag #vagusnerve have been viewed more than 64 million times and there are nearly 70,000 posts with the hashtag on instagram”. So, what exactly have we learned and why are so many of us doing practices to activate this all-important nerve?
One of our favorite clean beauty brands, Osea, has been on top of this trend for some time. They have studied and understand the functions the vagus nerve plays in calming the body and in turn have created, the always popular, Vagus Nerve Bath Oil, Vagus Nerve Massage Oil and the Vagus Nerve Pillow Mist to assist in regulating stress, activating the body’s relaxation response and improving our quality of sleep (just a few functions of the vagus nerve and possible effects we receive when toned).
Deep breathing is just one of the ways to stimulate this powerful nerve that also helps digest our food and encourages positive social relationships. Osea’s Vagus Nerve Oil was precisely designed for the soothing ritual of self-massage. And they guide us through yet another simple but powerful technique designed to melt our tension away:
- Begin with two pumps of body oil into the hands.
- Cup your hands to your nose and inhale deeply.
- Starting at your clavicle, gently massage in an upward motion along the left side of your neck. Repeat on your right side.
- With two fingers, gently rub behind your earlobes.
- Bring your hands to your chest, interlacing your fingers. Move your interlaced fingers behind your head keeping your head straight, but bring your gaze fully to the right. Maintain position until you experience a sensation of swallowing, a sigh or a yawn. Then repeat on the left side.
This simple technique is super soothing and helps you slip into a more relaxed state. Try before bed, or anytime you’re feeling stressed.
- Cynthia Latimer