The Wandering Nerve  

 What it is

The vagus nerve (vagus means wandering in Latin) is the longest cranial nerve in our body. It runs from the brain stem to our chest and abdomen. Until recently this nerve was understudied but now it is understood to be an important link between our brains and our guts. While we already knew it governed our breathing, digestion, heart rate, reflexes and cardiovascular activity, this new understanding of its connection to our gastrointenstinal tract means its role in our bodies is much more important. 

 Why it matters to me 

The vagus nerve controls our parasympathic nervous system which is integral to help us wind down from the stesses of being a human and living on our crumbling planet. Its our rest and restore switch that we need to keep nurturing to keep us heatlhy. Its easy to reve ourselves up to fight or flight, but harder to go the other way. Here are some ways I keep my wandering nerve happy. Meditation (daily), slow deep breathing (daily), cold plunges in any ocean or lake I can find (weekly), yoga (weekly) humming/chanting/singing when appropriate, some massage or acupunture (monthly). 

 

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