One way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response within the body is to stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls and measures activity of internal organs.When the vagus nerve is stimulated, the body becomes calm, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, and muscles relax. When the vagus nerve communicates these changes to the brain, we experience a sense of peace. We can stimulate the vagus nerve and thereby calm anxiety and overwhelm by practising slow, deep breathing.
Extended out breath
Inhale through your nose normally, counting as you inhale.
Exhale slowly through your nose, exhaling for twice as long as your inhale.
Repeat for five minutes or until you feel calmer
Exhaling through a straw forces a diaphragmatic style of breath.
Inhale normally through your nose.
Exhale slowly and completely (but not forcefully) through a drinking straw or pursed lips.
Repeat for five minutes or until you feel calmer.
Five finger breathing
this technique focuses on both breathing and the sensation of touch.
Place the index finger of your right hand on the outside of your left little finger.
As you inhale, trace up to the tip of your little finger.
As you exhale, trace down the inside of your little finger.
With your next inhale, trace up your left ring finger.
As you exhale, trace down the inside of the ring finger.
Continue through all fingers and the thumb.
Repeat on your right handling your left index finger.
Use these simple techniques the next time you feel anxiety or overwhelm building for you.