Do you remember when these health crazes hit the newsstand? Take in more Vitamin C (or insert Vitamin A-Z), only eat raw food, only eat cabbage soup, drink bone broth every day, drink water before you eat to prevent hunger and don’t eat after 7 pm. These all of a sudden were the newest solutions to weight loss and health. Instead of doing trying to do these suggestions perfectly, they could have been new recipes and guidelines for you to experiment with. I am predicting the future and declaring that the Vagus Nerve is going to be the newest and superconscious health craze! We are going to see more scientific research about this nerve, heaps of amazing Ted Talks and the new focus will be to help us connect our mind and body, AGAIN.
We were connected. Now, we are less so. The extreme diets that are taking the limelight right now are trying to replace this true connection. When we had to hunt, gather, look for shelter and respond to the environment, we had to do things in an extreme manner. There were times we had to intermittent fast, live on the fats of meat, potatoes through the winter, or just berries when the hunt didn’t go well. I think we are truly looking for a similar flow like this again.
We are craving the connection to our rhythms with nature, seasons, the sun, our neighbors and ourselves. How can the Vagus Nerve support us toward this rhythm?
First of all, what is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve wanders from the brainstem to the organs of the body to calm them down. The sympathetic nerves from the spine travel to the organs to produce energy for times of emergency or heightened activity.
The vagus nerve is one of the larger and more important nerves in the human body. One key role it plays is to counteract when our alarm system has been set off, resulting in the infamous fight or flight or freeze response. The vagus nerve tells the body and brain: it is safe now, the threat is gone, bodily functions can return to normal. So many people’s nervous systems are stuck in fight and flight and they do not feel safe. How can we feel safe and have the vagus nerve anticipate our NEEDS?
How can your Vagus Nerve meet your needs?
Do you know those days or weeks when you want to eat everything in sight or the opposite when you aren’t hungry and need a food time out? Do you trust these rhythms or do you react by judging them and overanalyzing them to make them wrong?
Step 1 is FEEL. If we can take a moment to FEEL and connect to our nervous systems, then we are golden.
- Take 5 deep breaths: First, you need to relax your sympathetic nervous system (action mode) and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to lead. Some feelings you may experience to feel you are in your parasympathetic nervous system are; the euphoric feeling when you wake up from a stellar nap, the calm when you recover after a great work out and the sensation you are a bit sleepy after a meditation.
- Ask hot or cold and sweet or savory: You know the feeling when you want a hot and rich meal versus a cold and crisp salad. These sensations are super simple to feel in our bodies and help us connect to our needs. Our body and organs have 22 different senses they need to calibrate to find homeostasis. This question helps find your yin/yang balance to help you feel satiated and supported. Try asking this question before you make a meal, dine out and head to the grocery store.
- When to exercise gently or strenuously: Your nervous system feeds your organs and muscles. Instead of focusing on just exercising your muscles, try to exercise or REST your nervous system. Besides taking a scan of your body every morning to observe what is the best action to take, try to test your resting heart rate when you wake up and if it is higher than usual, have that be a rest or low impact day.
Try practicing these action steps as you become besties with your Vagus Nerve.
The thing I notice with myself and my clients is that we can’t believe how easy it becomes to get our needs met and nourished. My personal favorite magic trick is that I will buy something I am not hungry for at all and in three days or so, it is exactly what my mind, body and SPIRIT totally needed.
If you are experiencing fear around letting go of following a restricted program perfectly, please reach out. Remember, FEELing overrides FEAR. Please do not go all or none on me, instead, let the Vagus Nerve do the work, it wants to provide you with EXACTLY what you need.
What happens in Vagus, stays in Vagus,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N.