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When your anxiety is through the roof, the vagus nerve tells your body to “chill” by releasing acetylcholine, a soothing neurotransmitter that melts tension away. The more toned your vagus nerve is, the more effective this relaxation response will be!
A certain level of inflammation is normal post-injury or illness, however studies show that excessive inflammation causes disease and chronic pain. It’s no surprise that a primary factor of inflammation is chronic stress. The vagus nerve helps keep inflammation in check by reducing the stressful “fight or flight” response.
When we are social beings, the ventral (front) side of the vagus nerve supports our feelings of physical and emotional safety and wellbeing with others. The vagus nerve helps us feel safe, calm, connected and engaged in our relationships. We love those warm fuzzy feelings! On the flip side, the dorsal (back) of the vagus nerve responds to feelings of danger and helps to protect us from interacting with others who we perceive to be emotionally or physically unsafe. The area of study around the vagus nerve and human relationships was developed by Dr. Stephen Porges.
The transition from wakefulness to rest, coincides with the vagus nerve nudging the parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the body's relaxation response. Maintaining optimal Vagal Tone then is crucial to a good night’s sleep.
The vagus nerve even signals your stomach to push food into the small intestines and helps with digestion.
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