Tone Your Vagus Nerve with Gratitude

March 18, 2021

Tone Your Vagus Nerve with Gratitude

Is gratitude science? 🌿 In a very real sense, yes.
But let's begin with how the vagus nerve plays a huge part in the practice of Gratitude, highlighting just how important to physical and mental wellness it is.
The vagus nerve, otherwise known as the “wandering nerve,” starts at your brainstem and wanders throughout the body. Our vagal nerve lays out a decision process of sorts that determines whether fight or flight mode is activated. According to Steven Porges, of Indiana University’s Trauma Research Center at the Kinsey Institute, practicing gratitude is one way that you can help condition your vagus nerve, giving your nervous system cues of safety.
The primary function of the vagus nerve is to monitor what is occurring in your body and report that activity back to your brain. The nerve is a major part of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of our autonomic nervous system that helps us calm down and find homeostasis (balance).
Scientists call the strength of the vagus nerve activity your “vagal tone.” Having a high vagal tone means you’re able to relax faster, lower inflammation, and improve your immune system. A low vagal tone, on the other hand, means you can find yourself in an ongoing state of anxiety—the fight or flight mode—in response to moments of stress.

Porges, says that "practicing Gratitude activates our vagal nerve, thus helping to protect ourselves from these negative states."

Yes, Gratitude is integral to our health.

Need a few ideas to show your vagal nerve some gratitude?
  1. Keep a Roller Blend of Equilibrium on your night stand - roll behind both ear lobes, over the mastoid bone. Reach for this spot now, it's easy to find. What does this do? This combination of essential oils can help keep the vagus nerve open, blockage can wreak all kinds of havoc. Keep in mind, the vagus nerve branches off as it travels from the brain, behind both ears and downward to all organs. It's the "wandering nerve" remember?
  2. Tone and support your vagus nerve by developing a "habit" of feeling grateful, keeping a Gratitude Journal makes a huge difference, even improving the quality of your sleep. Simply write down three reasons you were grateful today, taking a moment to appreciate what you have.

One study found a daily gratitude journal made participants 15% more optimistic and improved their sleep quality by 25%. It also made them 10% happier, which is the same boost to happiness you’d get from doubling your income. Doubling your income takes a lot of time and effort— gratitude takes five minutes each night.

So appreciate the good in your day. Maybe it’s something big, like a promotion at work, or maybe it’s as simple as taking a hot shower this morning. Whatever it is, there’s always something to be grateful for.