Turn off Anxiety in your Nervous System: Four Ways to Turn on the Parasympathetic Response

You know that feeling you get when you're, anxious or scared or angry, and you can feel your body start to spiral out of control. Almost like you're falling out of a plane without a parachute. Well, stick around because I want to tell you about the built-in emotional parachute that your body has and how you can deploy it whenever you feel the need.

This video is sponsored by better help where you can get professional, affordable, online counseling for around 65 a week. So check out the link in the description for 10 off your first month, i'm Emma mcadam, i'm, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and in today's episode.

I want to talk to you about your body's, natural and trainable, counteracting response to the fight flight or freeze response. Now, hopefully, you've. Seen my video on the fight flight or freeze response, it was actually the first video I ever made for this channel and in that video I explained that those fight flight freeze reactions are the body's, natural stress response and how anxiety isn't just in our mind, but it's, also very much manifested in our body.

Now there are a lot of things you can do to help pull yourself out of the fight flight freeze response, but in this video i'm just going to cover four simple ways that I feel work best to calm you down and to soothe That anxiety response, so in this video we're, going to cover deep, breathing and vagal tone, peripheral vision and softening the eyes, the valsalva maneuver and the yawn.

But first let's. Talk about a little biology for context, so our bodies have what's called the autonomic nervous system. This part of our nervous system automatically regulates breathing heart rate, blood pressure and a whole bunch of other stuff.

When we experience a stressful situation, the autonomic nervous system kicks on that fight flight freeze response, which is also known as the sympathetic response. This response is automatic and it controls how much cortisol and adrenaline are released into our system.

It increases our blood pressure and our breathing rate. Your hands may start to sweat, your stomach may clench up or your voice may start to shake just a little bit. These are the physical manifestations of anxiety.

However, our brilliant, wise, beautiful body has a counterbalancing force, called the parasympathetic response and that's para as in parachute - and this is the body's, natural way of slowing down and creating a sense of calm and safety.

So it works. Like this, if your brain thinks that you're in a dangerous situation, whether that's, a tiger attacking you or just public speaking, your body may trigger the fight flight freeze response.

But when the dangerous situation is resolved and your brain knows that you're safe, your body then triggers this parasympathetic response, which is also sometimes called rest and digest it's called this because, as your body starts to relax and transition From that fight flight freeze response, other systems in your body which had temporarily been switched off like digestion, these come back online and they start functioning normally again.

So your breathing automatically slows down your immune system turns back on and you're able to relax, calm down and your body has time to heal. Now. This is how your body, naturally transitions between these two states and, as i've said it's, all automatic, so it may feel like this is all out of your control, but with some training you can actually teach yourself to kick On that parasympathetic response, and to do that, you first need to know about your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the autonomic nervous system, and this nerve does two really important things. So first it can trigger that parasympathetic response that we want and second it transmits signals in both directions.

So that means it can send information from your brain to your body about whether to be stressed or calm, and then it sends information from your body to your brain about whether to be stressed or calm.

So when we practice these bodily calming techniques, we actually send a message along the vagus nerve from our body to our brain, saying that things are okay, that we're safe and that in turn, calms our stress and our anxiety.

So now let's. Go over these four body, calming techniques that will help you send these calming signals from your body to your brain and better help. You regulate your emotions in stressful situations, so first let's.

Talk about vagal tone! Bagel tone is a measure of how strong your parasympathetic response is. It indicates how good your autonomic nervous system is at calming down and just like muscle tone in your arm would indicate how much you exercise your arm.

Bagel tone is a measure of how much you use your parasympathetic nervous system and how strong it is. So to start. First, i'm, going to just show you how to feel your bagel tone, and you'll, be doing this by noticing your heart rate variability.

So, first find your pulse on your wrist or, if you hold really still, you should be able to feel your heart beating now close your eyes, so you can focus and breathe in and breathe out very slowly and pay attention to what happens to your heart rate.

When you breathe in and when you breathe out, okay, did you notice that when you breathe in your heart rate, increases and when you breathe out slowly, your heart slows down? That is heart rate variability for people who have a stronger vagal tone.

Their heart rate slows down even more on the out breath than people who have a weaker vagal tone and just like exercising your arm muscles, you can exercise with deep breathing to strengthen your vehicle tongue.

Higher vagal tone is associated with better general health. It leads to better blood sugar regulation, better heart health, improved digestion and a reduction in migraines. Most importantly, it improves emotional stability and resilience.

Lower vagal tone is associated with mood, instability, depression, ptsd, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment and inflammation. So you've. Probably heard that deep breathing helps with stress and anxiety, and this is why deep, slow breathing helps to increase your vagal tone and trigger that parasympathetic response through the vagus nerve.

You may feel yourself relax when you do it. You may notice that you start to salivate or that your eyes may soften and that's. All thanks to how deep, breathing and vagal tone affect that vagus nerve, so practicing deep, breathing and especially those long slow out breaths can help you soothe.

That stress response - and it can train your body to be better at kicking on that calming parasympathetic response. So deep breathing is a really helpful skill for people with anxiety, disorders and ptsd.

So I just mentioned that your eyes soften when you do deep breaths. I don't mean that they become squishy or something like that, but rather that they lose focus on any one particular thing they relax and your focus shifts from a specific visual point to more of your peripheral vision and everything around you.

So you've likely experienced eye softening when you & # 39, ve been lost in thought or daydreaming, so your eyes are open, but they're, not really looking at anything, and this is what I mean when I say your eyes: Soften now these nerves, here three and seven from the parasympathetic system, these control our eyes, uh.

You've, maybe heard of the term tunnel vision right that's, where your vision seems to get really narrow. When you're stressed and again, your brain is sending signals along that vagus nerve to get into that fight flight.

Freeze response i've. Only really noticed tunnel vision happened to me once i was rock climbing up a scary route and there was a high risk of a fall, and I came to this one spot on the route, and I was you know, gripping the holds of the rock as tightly As I could, and I was looking for the next hole to keep moving and I was really nervous - my arms were just like shaking you know.

I was running out of strength and I was just looking like so hard as hard as I could. But I just couldn't, see any holds um and i'm about to fall and just then my belayer yells up to me that there's. This huge hold.

You know just right basically right in front of my eyes and and yep there it was. It was like right there, but because I was feeling nervous and my body was getting all stressed out it's like it shut down my ability to see around me.

Well, it turns out that tunnel vision is a sympathetic response and again that's, part of the fight flight freeze and when we soften our eyes, we can trigger a parasympathetic response, meaning we can use our body to send signals up the vagus nerve To the brain and tell it to calm down now, buddhists and yogis have known and practiced this for centuries.

So here's, the second way to trigger that parasympathetic response so start by softening the muscles around your eyes. So if you don & # 39, t know how to consciously do that you can start by by squeezing them shut and then consciously like relaxing them to gain more awareness, or you can just gently touch the side of your eyes right here.

You can gently close. Your eyes and then open them really softly. Try to expand your awareness out to the sides of your vision, while keeping your eyeballs straight ahead. So you can keep looking at the screen, but then just start to notice what's out to the side? Here and using that peripheral vision is a way to trigger that calming parasympathetic response.

Okay, a third way to calm anxiety, is to increase the pressure in your chest cavity. This is called the valsalva maneuver. My five-year-old would love this because she loves potty talk, but basically you're gonna bear down, as if you're pooping or you can plug your nose and close your mouth and push out as if you're Gon na exhale or like you're going to you, know, stifle a sneeze, so it's.

Just kind of like this. The vagus nerve actually comes into contact with your pelvic floor and you maybe you've. Seen this when someone's mad, they're like like that when someone breathes like that and what they're doing, is they're subconsciously, increasing that pressure in their chest and then letting it out? But you can also practice this by you know bearing down when paramedics are working with someone who has tachycardia so that's like a fast heartbeat.

They & # 39. Ll, often tell them to bear down, because this triggers the heart to slow down. So bearing down is another way to stimulate that nerve and to send signals to your brain to calm down to trigger that parasympathetic response, so try breathing in for five seconds, then hold it and bear down for five seconds now you don't need To push hard, you just need to create a little pressure in your chest and then finally breathe out for five seconds and do this once or twice in a row breathing regularly in between.

So you don't, get light headed, and this can help trigger that vagus nerve now. Finally, the fourth action to trigger that vagus nerve is to yawn. So my favorite way to do this is to make the r sound open your mouth really big and try to lift your soft palate in the back of the roof of your mouth.

There's, a decent chance that this is going to make you yawn, or you can even try a fake yawn to trigger that response. This action makes me sleepy and relaxed almost every time. Um. You may have seen this reaction in your fur.

Babies, have you ever noticed how if a dog gets like super hyper, they'll start doing these huge dog yawns, as they calm down my dog geneva used to do this all the time in the car she loved car trips.

So she would get super excited about the car and then she'd, be in the car and she would start to do these big yawns like that um and you know how yawns are contagious. Well, that's because yawning is actually a herd.

Behavior. These contagious yawns keep the pack from going wild with excitement. These yawns send a message between dogs to each of these animals, vagus nerves, to say you know chill out calm down, you're.

Okay, so those are the four quick ways to trigger the parasympathetic response. But there are a bunch of other techniques. You can try so watch for part two of this video. If you & # 39, ve tried these techniques before or if you have others that have worked for you leave them down below.

In a comment, i'd love to know about them. I hope you found this video helpful learning to turn on that. Parasympathetic response could be a great skill to have when dealing with anxiety, disorders, ptsd, depression and stress.

Also, if you know someone who could benefit from these skills, please share this video and give it a like, so that others can find this content. Thank you so much for watching. If you'd, like to learn more about how to ground your mind and body check out my online courses in my free grounding skills course, i teach about 25 skills to ground the nervous system and to develop a stronger nervous system regulation and in My coping skills and self-care course I teach dozens of ways to cope with intense emotions.

The links are in the description. Thank you for watching and take care. You know that feeling you get when you're, anxious or scared or angry, and you can feel your body start to spiral out of control.

Almost like you're falling out of a plane without a parachute. Well, stick around because i want to tell you about the built-in emotional parachute that your body has and how you can deploy it whenever you feel the need [, Music ].

This video is sponsored by better help where you can get professional, affordable online counseling for around 65 a week so check out the link in the description for 10 off your first month, i'm emma mcadam, i'm, a licensed marriage And family therapist and in today's episode.

I want to talk to you about your body's, natural and trainable, counteracting response to the fight flight or freeze response. Now, hopefully, you've. Seen my video on the fight flight or freeze response, it was actually the first video i ever made for this channel and in that video i explained that those fight flight freeze reactions are the body's, natural stress response and how anxiety isn't just in our mind, but it's, also very much manifested in our body.

Now there are a lot of things you can do to help pull yourself out of the fight flight freeze response, but in this video i'm just going to cover four simple ways that i feel work best to calm you down and to soothe That anxiety response, so in this video we're, going to cover deep, breathing and vagal tone, peripheral vision and softening the eyes, the valsalva maneuver and the yawn.

But first let's. Talk about a little biology for context, so our bodies have what's called the autonomic nervous system. This part of our nervous system automatically regulates breathing heart rate, blood pressure and a whole bunch of other stuff.

When we experience a stressful situation, the autonomic nervous system kicks on that fight flight freeze response, which is also known as the sympathetic response. This response is automatic and it controls how much cortisol and adrenaline are released into our system.

It increases our blood pressure and our breathing rate. Your hands may start to sweat, your stomach may clench up or your voice may start to shake just a little bit. These are the physical manifestations of anxiety.

However, our brilliant, wise, beautiful body has a counterbalancing force, called the parasympathetic response and that's para as in parachute - and this is the body's, natural way of slowing down and creating a sense of calm and safety.

So it works. Like this, if your brain thinks that you're in a dangerous situation, whether that's, a tiger attacking you or just public speaking, your body may trigger the fight flight freeze response.

But when the dangerous situation is resolved and your brain knows that you're safe, your body then triggers this parasympathetic response, which is also sometimes called rest and digest it's called this because, as your body starts to relax and transition From that fight flight freeze response, other systems in your body which had temporarily been switched off like digestion, these come back online and they start functioning normally again.

So your breathing automatically slows down your immune system turns back on and you're able to relax, calm down and your body has time to heal. Now. This is how your body, naturally transitions between these two states and, as i've said it's, all automatic, so it may feel like this is all out of your control, but with some training you can actually teach yourself to kick On that parasympathetic response, and to do that, you first need to know about your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the autonomic nervous system, and this nerve does two really important things. So first it can trigger that parasympathetic response that we want and second it transmits signals in both directions.

So that means it can send information from your brain to your body about whether to be stressed or calm, and then it sends information from your body to your brain about whether to be stressed or calm.

So when we practice these bodily calming techniques, we actually send a message along the vagus nerve from our body to our brain, saying that things are okay, that we're safe and that in turn, calms our stress and our anxiety.

So now let's. Go over these four body, calming techniques that will help you send these calming signals from your body to your brain and better help. You regulate your emotions in stressful situations, so first let's.

Talk about vagal tone! Bagel tone is a measure of how strong your parasympathetic response is. It indicates how good your autonomic nervous system is at calming down and just like muscle tone in your arm would indicate how much you exercise your arm.

Bagel tone is a measure of how much you use your parasympathetic nervous system and how strong it is. So to start. First, i'm, going to just show you how to feel your bagel tone, and you'll, be doing this by noticing your heart rate variability.

So, first find your pulse on your wrist or, if you hold really still, you should be able to feel your heart beating now close your eyes, so you can focus and breathe in and breathe out very slowly and pay attention to what happens to your heart rate.

When you breathe in and when you breathe out, okay, did you notice that when you breathe in your heart rate, increases and when you breathe out slowly, your heart slows down? That is heart rate variability for people who have a stronger vagal tone.

Their heart rate slows down even more on the out breath than people who have a weaker vagal tone and just like exercising your arm muscles, you can exercise with deep breathing to strengthen your vehicle tongue.

Higher vagal tone is associated with better general health. It leads to better blood sugar regulation, better heart health, improved digestion and a reduction in migraines. Most importantly, it improves emotional stability and resilience.

Lower vagal tone is associated with mood, instability, depression, ptsd, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment and inflammation. So you've. Probably heard that deep breathing helps with stress and anxiety, and this is why deep, slow breathing helps to increase your vagal tone and trigger that parasympathetic response through the vagus nerve.

You may feel yourself relax when you do it. You may notice that you start to salivate or that your eyes may soften and that's. All thanks to how deep, breathing and vagal tone affect that vagus nerve, so practicing deep, breathing and especially those long slow out breaths can help you soothe.

That stress response - and it can train your body to be better at kicking on that calming parasympathetic response. So deep breathing is a really helpful skill for people with anxiety, disorders and ptsd.

So i just mentioned that your eyes soften when you do deep breaths. I don't mean that they become squishy or something like that, but rather that they lose focus on any one particular thing they relax and your focus shifts from a specific visual point to more of your peripheral vision and everything around you.

So you've likely experienced eye softening when you & # 39, ve been lost in thought or daydreaming, so your eyes are open, but they're, not really looking at anything, and this is what i mean when i say your eyes: Soften now these nerves, here three and seven from the parasympathetic system, these control our eyes, uh.

You've, maybe heard of the term tunnel vision right that's, where your vision seems to get really narrow. When you're stressed and again, your brain is sending signals along that vagus nerve to get into that fight flight.

Freeze response i've. Only really noticed tunnel vision happened to me once i was rock climbing up a scary route and there was a high risk of a fall, and i came to this one spot on the route, and i was you know, gripping the holds of the rock as tightly As i could, and i was looking for the next hole to keep moving and i was really nervous - my arms were just like shaking you know.

I was running out of strength and i was just looking like so hard as hard as i could. But i just couldn't, see any holds um and i'm about to fall and just then my belayer yells up to me that there's. This huge hold.

You know just right basically right in front of my eyes and and yep there it was. It was like right there, but because i was feeling nervous and my body was getting all stressed out it's like it shut down my ability to see around me.

Well, it turns out that tunnel vision is a sympathetic response and again that's, part of the fight flight freeze and when we soften our eyes, we can trigger a parasympathetic response, meaning we can use our body to send signals up the vagus nerve To the brain and tell it to calm down now, buddhists and yogis have known and practiced this for centuries.

So here's, the second way to trigger that parasympathetic response so start by softening the muscles around your eyes. So if you don & # 39, t know how to consciously do that you can start by by squeezing them shut and then consciously like relaxing them to gain more awareness, or you can just gently touch the side of your eyes right here.

You can gently close. Your eyes and then open them really softly. Try to expand your awareness out to the sides of your vision, while keeping your eyeballs straight ahead. So you can keep looking at the screen, but then just start to notice what's out to the side? Here and using that peripheral vision is a way to trigger that calming parasympathetic response.

Okay, a third way to calm anxiety, is to increase the pressure in your chest cavity. This is called the valsalva maneuver. My five-year-old would love this because she loves potty talk, but basically you're gonna bear down, as if you're pooping or you can plug your nose and close your mouth and push out as if you're Gon na exhale or like you're going to you, know, stifle a sneeze, so it's.

Just kind of like this. The vagus nerve actually comes into contact with your pelvic floor and you maybe you've. Seen this when someone's mad, they're like like that when someone breathes like that and what they're doing, is they're subconsciously, increasing that pressure in their chest and then letting it out? But you can also practice this by you know bearing down when paramedics are working with someone who has tachycardia so that's like a fast heartbeat.

They & # 39. Ll, often tell them to bear down, because this triggers the heart to slow down. So bearing down is another way to stimulate that nerve and to send signals to your brain to calm down to trigger that parasympathetic response, so try breathing in for five seconds, then hold it and bear down for five seconds now you don't need To push hard, you just need to create a little pressure in your chest and then finally breathe out for five seconds and do this once or twice in a row breathing regularly in between.

So you don't, get light headed, and this can help trigger that vagus nerve now. Finally, the fourth action to trigger that vagus nerve is to yawn. So my favorite way to do this is to make the r sound open your mouth really big and try to lift your soft palate in the back of the roof of your mouth.

There's, a decent chance that this is going to make you yawn, or you can even try a fake yawn to trigger that response. This action makes me sleepy and relaxed almost every time. Um. You may have seen this reaction in your fur.

Babies, have you ever noticed how if a dog gets like super hyper, they'll start doing these huge dog yawns, as they calm down my dog geneva used to do this all the time in the car she loved car trips.

So she would get super excited about the car and then she'd, be in the car and she would start to do these big yawns like that um and you know how yawns are contagious. Well, that's because yawning is actually a herd.

Behavior. These contagious yawns keep the pack from going wild with excitement. These yawns send a message between dogs to each of these animals, vagus nerves, to say you know chill out calm down, you're.

Okay, so those are the four quick ways to trigger the parasympathetic response. But there are a bunch of other techniques. You can try so watch for part two of this video. If you & # 39, ve tried these techniques before or if you have others that have worked for you leave them down below.

In a comment, i'd love to know about them. I hope you found this video helpful learning to turn on that. Parasympathetic response could be a great skill to have when dealing with anxiety, disorders, ptsd, depression and stress.

Also, if you know someone who could benefit from these skills, please share this video and give it a like, so that others can find this content. Thank you so much for watching. If you'd, like to learn more about how to ground your mind and body check out my online courses in my free grounding skills course, i teach about 25 skills to ground the nervous system and to develop a stronger nervous system regulation and in My coping skills and self-care course i teach dozens of ways to cope with intense emotions.

The links are in the description. Thank you for watching and take care. You


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