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Vagal Toning for High-Functioning Anxiety

Overthinking. Overachieving. Perfectionistic. People-Pleasing.

This is the final post in our series about high-functioning anxiety, and it will arm you with a quick but powerful tool to stop anxiety in its tracks:

✨Vagal Toning Exercises✨

The vagus nerve is at the center of your parasympathetic nervous system—the arm of your nervous system that puts you into rest and relaxation.

Better vagal tone means your body can relax faster after experiencing stress.

You can practice vagal toning exercises as part of your everyday routine AND use them in the moment for immediate stress relief.

Here are 3 quick ways to activate and tone your vagus nerve:

1️⃣ Deep Breathing

Slow and deep belly breathing is a powerful way to tone the vagus nerve. You can do this anytime and anywhere. One way to make a practice of deep breathing is to try an app that will alert you with reminders and guide you through quick breathing exercises.

2️⃣ Humming

The vagus nerve connects to the vocal cords, so the act of humming stimulates the nerve. Other ways to use the vocal cords to stimulate the vagal nerve include singing, laughter, or chanting.

3️⃣ Cold Water Splash

Exposure to cold is known to activate the vagus nerve. You can make a routine of this by ending your showers on cold. If you need a quick cold exposure in the moment, try splashing your face with cold water.

Over time, other ways to tone your vagus nerve include yoga, meditation, exercise, and eating a healthy diet filled with foods like fruits, veggies, and fermented (probiotic-rich) foods.

So, next time you catch yourself in a state of overthinking and overwhelm, give yourself a quick break (even as little as one minute!) to reset your nervous system with a vagal toning exercise.

If you can relate to the information we’ve shared in this series on high-functioning anxiety and are ready to break the pattern to achieve a greater sense of calm, please reach out so we can help.

-Dr. Solinger

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