Many people believe that meditation and yoga are the only ways to include relaxation in to your daily lives.
Meditation and yoga are great forms of relaxation and mindfulness however there are a multitude of other ways to incorporate stress reduction practice into your routines.
One way that you can do this is to sing. This is one of our favourite ways to relax and have a giggle and are usually doing this in the car or in the shower so you can really let go without judgement.
The reason why singing can be beneficial is that singing stimulates your vagus nerve.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body. It connects your brain to organs of the body such as the gut (intestines and stomach), heart and lungs.
The vagus nerve is also a key part of the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system which influences your breathing, digestive function and heart rate which can all have a huge impact on your mental health.
Singing among other activities increases the tone of your vagus nerve activating the parasympathetic nervous system and making your body relax faster after stress and it has also been shown to help treat a wide variety of conditions, including:
Obsessive compulsive disorders
Traumatic brain injury
Chronic fatigue syndrome
If singing is not your thing, don’t worry!
There are many ways to stimulate vagus nerve tone including:
Gargling (try and do this with water not mouth wash)
Laughing out loud for 30 seconds
Deep and slow breathing - in for the count of 4, out for the count of 8
Probiotics - there are particular strains so please see a health practitioner to see if this is right for you
Exercise - strength training, high intensity interval training and walking have this effect
Zinc rich foods - such as animal meats and nuts and seeds. Only supplement if monitored by a health practitioner as excess zinc has a wide range of side effects
Exposure to the cold - alternating hot and cold showers
Give some of these a try and see how you go!