Need to de-stress? Try humming.
It’s here: Election Day 2020.
Are you like me? Feeling anxious and nervous? A bit hopeful too?
Are you planning to glue yourself to the TV and social media all day and all night? All week for that matter?
Or have you decided to ditch all forms of media in an attempt to protect your sanity?
If you’re looking for a way to de-stress, I’ve got the perfect at-home stress reliever for you: humming.
How does humming help you de-stress?
When you hum, you activate the vagus nerve which tells your brain that all is well, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which calms and relaxes you.
What is the vagus nerve?
I’m glad you asked!
“Vagus” means “wandering” in Latin, and this nerve truly does wander. The vagus nerve is our longest cranial nerve, communicating between the brain and most major organs in the body, all the way to the colon.
When you activate your vagus nerve, you turn off your “fight or flight” stress response, and this tells your brain and heart to calm down, stimulating your body’s parasympathetic “rest and digest” response.
How does humming activate the vagus nerve?
Your voice box, or larynx, is connected to your vagus nerve. So when you hum, or even sing, it’s naturally activated.
If you’ve done yoga or meditation, you probably have experienced techniques like humming “om” which is meant to do just this -- activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is why you feel more calm afterwards.
What’s fascinating is that by activating your vagus nerve, you’re also lowering cortisol levels and inflammation, soothing tension headaches and anxiety, and boosting your immunity, digestion, and mood!
How does humming bring about a sense of calm?
When you hum, you increase nitric oxide, which is a neurotransmitter fundamental to your health and wellbeing.
Nitric oxide increases blood vessels, relaxes and improves circulation, blood flow, and lowers blood pressure.
Research shows that conscious humming creates chemical changes in the body by releasing endorphins and nitric oxide, which create new neural pathways in the brain.
What do I hum to feel calm?
Hum your favorite song. Make up a hum. Hum anything.
You can also hum a sound over and over, like “om” or simply hum along to a song you love.
How long do I need to hum to feel less stressed?
I suggest intentionally humming for at least 60 seconds. You can hum longer, of course.
It helps, and feels nice, to smile when you hum too.
Try it! It’s difficult to hum and feel upset and angry at the same time. So if you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety or sadness, humming will help you.
Try humming with breathing.
Humming combined with breath is a powerful way to let go of tension and stress in the body.
Take a deep breath in and hum on your exhale.
This kind of humming combined with breath is healing and calming.
I suggest a series of at least six deep breaths in through your nose, each followed by a long exhale hum through your mouth, with your jaw relaxed and slightly open.
Remember, the aim is to slow your breathing by conscious and intentional humming on the exhale.
This will stimulate your relaxation response, sending messages to your parasympathetic nervous system that you are calm and safe.
Love, Your Wellness Coach,
P.S. The waitlist is open for Nourish Till You Flourish: Revitalize Your Life! my signature 6-week holistic wellness small group coaching program starting early December. Reply back with questions and to join the waitlist.
Alyssa’s “Nourish Till Your Flourish” program came at a time in my life when I needed some helpful guidance on how to further implement healthier habits into my daily routine. The homework assignments and tools helped me develop a better structure on how I want to live my daily life in a healthier way. It was only for 6 weeks and I honestly wished it was longer, cause Alyssa’s positivity and enthusiasm made it fun. I definitely would do the program again and highly recommend it. - Tiffany S.
November 3, 2020