Parents, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, whoever may be reading this, thank you for taking the time.
I know the title “the number one secret” maybe a little dramatic, but it’s the truth! We’ve been talking about the Vagus Nerve for a long time, but only for adults, athletes, and people wanting to biohack their nervous system. It does not get talked about enough for kids.
The Vagus Nerve is under attack in kids today because they are under so much stress starting at the very beginning of their lives.
Throughout the pregnancy process for a mom, there’s a lot of stress, anxiety, and fear that’s built into that. Then there is stress that comes with the delivery process, whether it be a C-section, an assisted delivery, or a cord wrap, all these different occurrences add stress along the way. Then you throw in the childhood falls, inflammatory foods, and chemicals that come at kids from every direction.
And lastly, there is just so much social stress and anxiousness these days. All these components continue to affect the Vagus Nerve as these kids get older.
These stressors all do one of two things. They either turn up the Vagus Nerve and help it do better and calm, chill, rest, or relax the nervous system. Or in a case where there is too much stress, they turn the Vagus Nerve down. They tighten up around it and stress it out. They may cause it to be fast, overactive, and more in fight or flight. In that case, the Vagus Nerve is truly under attack on our kids.
How Can We Help the Vagus Nerve?
I want to educate you on some things that we can do as parents to help the Vagus Nerve turn up. Two things that are quick, easy, and short term, and the other long term. If we turn up that volume, we actually turn up kids’ ability to calm, chill, relax, focus, sleep better, have sensory calm, hang out with friends, be in loud rooms, to do all those things. Here are the 3 ways we can turn that up.
#1: Breath Work
Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm can be extremely beneficial. Some kids may be able to do this and some may struggle to figure it out, but there are a lot of cool exercises out there you can google to help them along.
Your diaphragm is located in your lower lungs. You really want to take that deep breath and do a series of those breaths for a minute or two. You’re taking almost six seconds in and another six seconds to blow all that air out. That is going to stimulate the Vagus Nerve, which starts in the upper neck. This allows the body to get more oxygen as the Vagus Nerve picks that sensory sensation up from your body and lungs and feeds your brain calmer, chill, rest and relaxation. So if you can get your child to practice that breathwork, it should really help.
#2: Singing, Chanting, Humming or Meditation
The second quick fix is any kind of singing, chanting, humming, or meditation. These will all help to stimulate that Vagus Nerve as well. When my nine-year-old gets stressed out, he’ll actually make noises and walk around the house humming. It’s because he’s trying to intuitively stimulate that Vagus Nerve. This is the same thought process as to why music can be so calming, so feel free to turn on that Apple or Amazon music and let your kids sing along. This can help the Vagus Nerve to turn up and the body to calm and relax.
#3: Long Term Fix – Chiropractic Adjustments
The third option is the long-term reset, and this is what we do at PWC Chiropractic. We can measure how much stress the Vagus Nerve is under. Every kiddo is unique and comes into the world a bit differently. They come in contact with different stressors along the way. So we measure how much stress that nerve under the upper neck is under and how wound up and overwhelmed it is. Then we develop a plan to help calm the body so that we can turn up that Vagus Nerve’s ability to regulate and boost your child’s ability to heal, develop and grow in a calm and chill manner.
If this is something that is top of mind for you and you’ve already tried a lot of things that aren’t necessarily working, we would love for you to reach out to a doc in our directory. We need to start talking more about the Vagus in kiddos because it is truly one of those things that can get the nervous system online and help so many kids that are overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. We want them to be able to focus better and feel calm.