That said, when your vagus nerve isn’t operating as it should, it can lead to widespread health concerns (including in the gut, brain, and immune system) over time that negatively impact overall well-being.
What’s worse, our body can’t distinguish the difference between a real threat (e.g., a bear running at us, ready to attack) and a perceived threat (e.g., an approaching project deadline at work or a “we need to talk” text from your partner).
With stressors at an all time high, it’s easy for our bodies to get stuck in fight-or-flight for long periods of time. That said, if you have strong vagal tone (i.e., activity of the vagus nerve), your body won’t get thrown into fight-or-flight every time you get nervous before a serious conversation or overwhelmed by your workload.
Luckily, you can stimulate your vagus nerve, essentially training it to handle stressors better. Some ways to stimulate the vagus nerve include cold exposure therapy, light exercise, singing or humming, and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
Another easy way to increase vagal tone? Consider omega-3 fats.