Watch video: Sing a little song to help quiet jangly nerves

In this article: 

  • Polyvagal relaxation techniques focus on the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes our "rest and digest" response and helps us calm down. 
  • Humming and singing can enhance our parasympathetic response during periods of anxiety or elevated stress. 
  • A Swedish expert explains how humming or singing along with our favorite tune can help us manage an uneasy state of mind. 

"Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast," goes the oft-quoted old phrase. While a lullaby may or may not calm an agitated Fido, as far as people are concerned, the pithy quote isn't just an old wives' tale; there's some science behind it. The 10th cranial nerve, our vagus nerve, is our longest cranial nerve, extending from the back of our brain throughout the rest of the body. One of its jobs along the way is to promote our relaxation response, explains Courtney Lavadia, Ph.D., an integrated behavioral health expert at Swedish. Because the vagus nerve touches our vocal cords, humming, singing, chanting or even buzzing can help stimulate relaxation during stressful moments. Watch this short video to learn more. 

Learn more and find a provider

If you have questions about behavioral health services or would like to schedule an appointment, contact Swedish Behavioral Health. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options.

Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction, and follow up as needed. If you need to find a provider, you can use our provider directory.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Additional resources

Watch video: Feeling extreme stress? Try the diver's reflex.

Watch video: Balance is the key to meeting life's demands in a healthy way

Watch video: Get outside for a natural mood boost

Integrated approach targets both physical and mental health | The Seattle Times

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram and X. 

About the Author

Whether it's stress, anxiety, dementia, addiction or any number of life events that impede our ability to function, mental health is a topic that impacts nearly everyone. The Swedish Behavioral Health Team is committed to offering every-day tips and clinical advice to help you and your loved ones navigate mental health conditions.

More Content by Swedish Behavioral Health Team
Previous Article
Watch video: Need a mindset reset? Connect with gratitude.
Watch video: Need a mindset reset? Connect with gratitude.

Taking a moment to express thanks for what's meaningful in your life can build connection and soothe an anx...

Next Article
What to do when gun violence headlines leave you feeling afraid and hopeless
What to do when gun violence headlines leave you feeling afraid and hopeless

A Swedish behavioral health expert shares ways to protect our mental health when the news is overwhelming.