relaxation ideas for the vagus/vagal nerve and general stress
We'd talked about vagus therapy here
, a closed thread, but I'm now listening to a brilliant 30' talk "Vagus Nerve and Stress" with Eva Detko, PhD, MSc, BA on the "Neuro-Metabolism Summit", a webinar this week (the 6 talks per day are only on for free for 1(-2) days, unless you buy the talks). Hadn't heard of her before, but as opposed to many talks of this kind (on these summits too) very dense and practical. Only not sure about the moderator saying she'd "recovered from CFS, FM and Hashimoto's", haven't checked that up.
In summary she says that it's very helpful for all chronic conditions, but whatever types we use, it's important to sense if we are comfortable with it and it really does make us relax. Yeah, I know we often say this casually, but it does make a difference to me if an expert extends this to almost all vagus exercises.
So she mentions Breath of Fire, the Wim Hof Breathing, cold showering I do, and infrared saunas and says - of course - these are pretty deep, more advanced things, that many might not be comfortable with, at least not at first. But she also says this about very basic, easy seeming things like voice / throat: singing, humming, gargling. Meditation too, because with a lively mind, meditation can be stress (ahh... I feel understood...). Same goes for things like exercise, which indirectly stimulates the vagus by first putting you into fight or flight mode -
In contrast she suggests starting only with mindful breathing, then lengthening the exhale.
And next important point was not doing things intensely once a week or month, but doing it regularly all day, e.g. mindfully
stroking your pet, an hour later doing deep breaths, 2 hours later a visualization of how beautiful your future may look. It has to be something that makes us go "aaaah, that feels good", not "pissed off".
Very interesting I found her explanation (in context of setbacks thru too much exercise) that if you have had chronic symptoms for a long time, then you will be spending a lot of time in "freeze mode", "shutdown". Freeze is also a survival mode, like fight or flight, both are not helpful, and freeze feels like rest & digest, but is actually the opposite.
(Exercise being superb over time, good for resilience, but not right for everybody right away, like for many with CFS and FM.) I've never looked at it that way. If freeze is like a rabbit caught in the headlights, then the headlights of FM would be the feeling of being overwhelmed of patients and doctors by the amount of symptoms, them changing, no one knowing what it is, where it comes from, what to do, what to expect. And she is saying that many of us may believe we are in rest & digest mode, but actually we are in freeze mode, i.e. "panicking" while not able to do anything. I'd think this paralyzes the feeling of panic, so we don't sense it, by changing it into anxiety, depression and other mental problems, or it may be the cause of people having occasional panic attacks out of the blue. However what I always like asking back is if this really started with the condition or was there before. If it was there before then (as she also says) that may have triggered vagus nerve issues, cos it's "a back and forth" between mind and body.
Asked about the help of vagus therapy for trauma she described a lot about her way of doing trauma work and the difficulties, but cautioned that vagus therapy is a brilliant and necessary basis for it, cos it gives us more bandwidth, resilience, stability when going deeper, but isn't sufficient, definitely doesn't take you all the way.