There are a lot of ways you may read about how to decrease panic attacks or anxiety in general. There are quick and effective ways to decrease panic related symptoms by activating your vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve is part of your parasympathetic nervous system, which is also known as your calming nervous system. Your vagus nerve runs from your brain down to your stomach. It is responsible for regulating your heart rate and breathing amongst other internal functions. By intentionally using a tool to activate your vagus nerve it will help calm your nervous system and body thus decrease panic related symptoms.
You feel your heart racing out of control, your palms get clammy, you get the chills, you start shaking, and then you feel like you are hyperventilating. It feels like you are having a heart attack and you have no idea how to make it stop. It feels like it is going to last forever. There may have even been times where you ended up in the emergency room. This is a panic attack. Learn below what to do to decrease these symptoms when they appear:
Vagus nerve tip # 1: Vergence Therapy
The first way to activate your Vagus nerve is by practicing vergence. Vergence is a Brainspotting therapy technique that I teach almost all my clients that come in with anxiety or panic related symptoms. It is a quick and effective way to activate your vagus nerve to help calm your body. How does Vergence calm your body and decrease anxiety? The 6 muscles that hold your eyes in place are called your Extraocular muscles or EOMs. Your extraocular muscles consist of many nerve endings and is the source of your oculocardiac reflex (OCR) (Grand 2013). The oculocardiac reflex is an immediate way to calm your body. When you look back and forth between two things (one close and one far) you are activating your OCR and in turn activating your vagus nerve.
How to use Vergence Therapy
Tip # 2: Mammalian Dive Response.
The second way to activate your Vagus nerve is called the Mammalian Dive Response. Humans have a mammalian diving response that immediately gets activated when you are submerged in cold water. The dive response will help slow down your heart rate and breathing, and ultimately calm your body and decrease panic.
How to utilize the Dive Response
Vagus nerve tip # 3: Use your vocal cords:
The third way to activate your Vagus nerve is by using your vocal cords. Your Vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords. You can activate the vagus nerve this way by singing loudly, humming, or gurgling water. If you have ever been to a yoga class, at the end of classes they will often do a chant “hummmm” by doing so you are activating your vagus nerve which is going to be very calming.
Keep in mind this is something that you can practice no matter where you are which is why it can be effective for a lot of people.
Tip # 4: Deep Breathing
The Fourth way to activate your vagus nerve is by doing Deep Breathing exercises. The goal is Slow deep breathes.
How to practice deep breathing:
Blog Disclaimer – These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.