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.
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