Week Forty-Three

My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:

The Vagus Nerve

It was recently brought to my attention that I hum or sing when I am stressed. It always calms me down, but for some reason, I never stopped to wonder why. So I did some research and it led to the discovery of (my new favorite) the Vagus Nerve! The Vagus Nerve: “The name ‘vagus’ comes from the Latin term for ‘wandering.’ This is because the vagus nerve wanders from the brain into organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen.” It is the longest nerve in the body and emanates from the brain. So, why does humming help?Well, the Vagus nerve is connected to many parts of the body, and one of them is the larynx. When we hum, it stimulates the nerve at that location and sends a signal to our parasympathetic nervous system, which ques our brain that “all is well”. Thus, it helps calm us down, as well as reducing the negative side affects of stress in the body (inflammation, high blood pressure, increased risk of depression and anxiety, and more). This also happens when folks sing or chant, which is likely why it’s found in religious practices and yoga. This article was written for the National Center For Biotechnology Information because – while there is a growing body of research on the proven benefits – there is very little information on why yoga and meditation work on an inner mechanical level. The theory stated in the above article indicates that much of what is beneficial about yoga, mediation and breathing is their connection to the vagus nerve. 

How To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve For Better Mental Health:
 Thisis my favorite approachable breakdown of natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, also known as creating “Vagal tone”. Vagal tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the vagus nerve. Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress. In 2010, researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve, and vice versa. It’s helpful to note that there are non-natural options, which are mainly used for epilepsy and extreme cases of mental illness, the most successful of which is the implantation of an electrical charge into the body at the Vagus nerve. You can read more on this topic at bottom part of this article if you are interested. However, there are MANY ways to increase Vagal tone naturally. Some of the options listed in the resource are: cold exposure, deep and slow breathing, singing (and variations of singing, such as chanting), probiotics, meditation, Omega-3 fatty acids, exercise, massage, socializing, and laughing. I highly recommend checking it out for more in-depth explanations as to why these techniques work and to gain a better understanding of the vagus nerve. 

Wim Hoff, also known as the Ice Man, speaks to the Vegas nerve on his website. He has not only climbed Everest in shorts, but also proved (as have several of his other practitioners) that you can alter the sympathetic nervous system (the system we previously thought impossible to manipulate) in order to fight bacteria and endotoxins in the body. Wim’s theory combines three pillars to help you gain control over your body, mind, and nervous system. These pillars are 1. Breath. 2. Cold immersion. 3. Determination. With pillars one and two, it takes time. All of the pillars Wim mentions have major connections to the vagas nerve. For more on Wim, check out this video.
Happy Humming!

Update On My Show:

The One Woman Hamlet fundraiser is less than a week away! Oct. 26th 2019!!! 

Tickets are only 20 dollars, which will help support the message that It’s O.K Not To Be O.K., as well as assisting in the production of One Woman Hamlet. The project is independently funded by me – and the beautiful humans who have already donated! – and without your help, it certainly wouldn’t be possible. Be there or be awesome elsewhere – but seriously, if you could be there that would be great!   


Check Out My Website For More Information

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What To Expect At The Fundraiser? 

  • Silent auction with an incredible selection of gifts, tickets, lessons, and more!
  • Puppet photo booth (with some of the characters from the show)!
  • Delicious coffee from Dark Matter
  • Donuts from Smack Dab!
  • Five minute group mindfulness activity led by yours truly!
  • Live music from the amazing Treble On The L!
  • And a small mental health resources goody bag!

If you haven’t yet, please check out some of the amazing local businesses who are contributing to the day, either in tangible goods or in silent auction items.These are truly some of my favorites businesses in the city!

  • Yogaloft will be hosting us for the evening! 
  • Smack Dab is going to be providing some of their delicious donuts!
  • Dark Matter will be providing their amazing coffee! Both to consume and to bid on!
  • Aaron Davidson (the talented piano player from Treble On The L) will be donating a private holiday party experience and piano lessons! 
  • Hope For The Day (my show’s sponsor and mentor) will be providing an auction item and handouts for all those who attend!
  • TimeLine theater will be donating two tickets to their upcoming season!
  • Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours will be donating 8 spots on a Haunted Segway Tour! They can be bought together or separately!
  • Dan Plehal will be donating an Acro Yoga private (for 1 or 2 folks) and access to one of his Acro Yoga Classes at First Ascent climbing gym!
  • First Ascent Climbing Gym: will be donating a Learning To Boulder package! Which includes rental gear, and three day passes for two people – a $200 dollar value!
  • StraubHandmade will be donating two beautiful pour over and mug sets and some of her gorgeous earrings from her Etsy Shop!
  • And Kate Smith (yours truly) will be donating a trauma sensitive yoga private for 1-5 people! 

Ways to Support: If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here: https://www.gofundme.com/one-woman-hamlet

Thank You: Thank you VERY much to all who have donated thus far, making this project possible. 


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