Relieve stress and improve heart health with your own voice

My goal has always been to help you get more enjoyment out of your day—all while improving your health.

And it’s so rewarding to read your emails about how my techniques are positively affecting your life. In fact, when I hear your success stories, my brain releases a type of “feel-good” neurotransmitter called endorphins.

Endorphins have been known to help humans survive and thrive throughout the ages. But more recently, research shows that endorphins can help you relieve stress and pain.

That’s why today I want to tell you how you can use the power of sound to safely produce more of your own endorphins—so you can experience deeper well-being each and every day.

Endorphins 101

Most people think of endorphins as chemicals your body releases after intense exercise or a pleasurable experience. But endorphins actually play an important role in many different body functions. They help us maintain a healthy weight, boost self-esteem, lower stress and anxiety, and ease depression.

Unfortunately, some of us don’t produce enough endorphins, which can lead to symptoms including:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Behaving impulsively
  • Sleep problems
  • Addiction

Of course, anyone of these symptoms can lead to major disruptions to your life. And if you’re experiencing any of these problems, you’re certainly not alone.

Over the past year, people reporting health issues related to low endorphin levels have risen dramatically.

That’s why I’m here to help you focus on techniques that will help bring you back to balance—by using the power of sound. 

Your “inner pharmacy”

You can actually trigger the natural production of endorphins (as well as other “feel-good” chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine) by stimulating your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, starting at the bottom of your brain stem, and running through the body, touching all of the major vital organs along the way.

And stimulating it is as simple as humming or singing.

In fact, research shows that when you stimulate your vagus nerve with self-generated sound, it not only reduces stress levels and triggers the natural production of endorphins and other “feel good chemicals”—but it also improves your heart health.

In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, researchers looked whether producing self-generated sounds would affect participants’ heart health markers, like blood pressure and heart rate.

They divided 60 healthy adolescents into two groups. One group was led through a slow-breathing, sound-based yoga exercise called Bhramari pranayama. This exercise involves chanting an “ahm” mantra (“Ahhh-ohhh-mmm”), while also producing a humming sound through the nostrils. Participants performed this exercise for three to four minutes at a time with a one-minute rest in between, up to five times.

In contrast, the control group was instructed to breathe normally—about 12-16 breaths per minute—with their eyes open in a comfortable sitting posture.

The researchers found that heart rate, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular markers were all significantly better in the Bhramari pranayama group than in the control group.

Here’s a similar exercise you can do right now—I call it Heart Humming:

  1. Sit up straight and close your eyes.
  2. Inhale a full, deep breath and tilt or chin down towards your chest.
  3. On the exhale, slightly open your mouth and vocalize the sound “Ahhmm” like in the word “calm.” Do this for the complete exhalation.
    Note: that the louder you do this, the better the technique works—just as long as you don’t strain your voice.
  4. Continue steps 3 and 4 for three to six cycles, or for however long feels comfortable to you.
  5. When you’re finished, stop and breathe at your normal pace.
  6. Take a minute to note how you feel. You may find that your mind feels clearer and more at ease.

Your body has many “built-in” tools like this to help you feel better naturally. It’s just that conventional medicine has never shown us how to do them.

Learning techniques like Heart Humming has undoubtedly changed my life for the better, and I’ve dedicated my career to showing others how to do the same.


Anxiety and depression in chronic headache patients: Major concern for community mental health

“Immediate effects of Bhramari Pranayama on resting cardiovascular parameters in healthy adolescents. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2016; 10(5), CC17–CC19. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2016/19202.7894

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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.