Give your body an all-natural “reboot”

If you ignore your computer when it starts acting strange, chances are, something is going to stop working soon. The same goes for your health—especially your nervous system. The nervous system is a highly complex part of the human body. It controls everything from breathing to walking to dreaming.

And just like taking the time to update your computer’s software can help prevent glitches, keeping your nervous system healthy can make all the difference between staying calm and focused—or having a complete meltdown.

What many people don’t realize is there’s a natural way to balance the nervous system without resorting to prescription medication.  

In fact, research shows that strengthening your nervous system is easy and can be done using your body’s natural ability to create sound. And the secret lies in something called vagal tone.

Strengthening your body’s chemical superhighway

To better understand vagal tone, it’s important to know about the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It starts at the bottom of your brain stem, and runs through your neck, and ends in your abdomen.

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The vagus nerve is like an elaborate chemical superhighway sending signals to and from your brain.

One of these key signals determines whether your body goes into “fight or flight mode”—governed by your sympathetic nervous system—or stays calm in “rest and restore mode,” controlled by your parasympathetic nervous system.

And it’s the strength or “tone” of this nerve that plays a large role in determining which “mode” you’ll experience. In other words, vagal tone determines how effectively you bounce back after a stressful event.

Research shows that a strong vagal tone helps your parasympathetic nervous system return your body to a calm state quickly and easily. And the higher your vagal tone, the better your body is at reaching that ideal resting state.

The good news is, strengthening your vagal tone is easy…

4 simple steps to boost vagal tone

A 2016 study showed how sound healing helped participants turn off their “fight or flight” system. I go into more detail in this article.  

Here’s a simple exercise that can help strengthen your vagal tone: 

  1. Slowly inhale through the nose.
  2. Exhale through the mouth while making a humming sound.
  3. Inhale and repeat.
  4. Try performing eight back-to-back hums, three times a day.

Remember, strengthening your vagal tone isn’t just a “one and done” activity—the best results come from giving it the attention it deserves on a consistent basis. But that doesn’t mean you have to carve an extra hour out of your day.

The exercise I outlined above is something you can do anytime, anywhere—at your desk, in your car, or even in the shower. It only takes a few minutes a day, but the benefits will last a lifetime.


Sources:

“Immediate effects of Bhramari Pranayama on resting cardiovascular parameters in healthy adolescents.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research. 2016; 10(5): CC17-CC19.

“To Lower Blood Pressure, Open Up and Say “Om.” NPR (www.npr.org), 8/21/08.

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About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.