5 ways to stimulate your vagus nerve and regain control from stress faster

By Rebecca Strong, June 24, 2022

A small 2018 study found that applying cold stimulation may slow your heart rate and direct blood flow to your brain, which may, in turn, help ease stress. The effect was most significant for cold stimulation in the neck area. With that in mind, Dr. Thomas Adams, a board-certified psychiatrist and psychotherapist with Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, suggests:

  • Applying a cold compress to the front or sides of your neck, or the center of your upper chest
  • Dunking your face in cold water
  • Taking a cold shower, or switching to cold water for the last 2-5 minutes of your shower

“This can have a noticeable calming effect for people who are feeling acutely anxious, upset, or overwhelmed,” Adams says.

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