The Wandering Nerve  


The vagus nerve (vagus means wandering in Latin) is the longest cranial nerve in our body. It runs from our brain stem to our chest and abdomen. Until recently, it was understudied but understood to be an essential link between our brains and guts. While we already knew it governed our breathing, digestion, heart rate, reflexes, and cardiovascular activity, we know it's connected to our gastrointestinal tract.

The vagus nerve controls our parasympathetic nervous system, which is integral to helping us wind down from the stresses of being a human and living on our crumbling planet. It's our rest and restores switch that we need to keep nurturing to keep us healthy. It's easier to get 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, or bathtub you can find (weekly)
  • Yoga (weekly)
  • Humming/chanting/singing (whenever)
  • Massage or acupuncture (monthly)