Unfortunately we are living in a world where anxiety is at an all time high. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 5 people in the UK say that they feel anxious ‘nearly all of the time’ or ‘a lot of the time’.
Feeling anxious or worried is very much a normal part of being a human, but when anxiety is chronic, it can have damaging effects on people's health and wellbeing. Anxiety can cause the body to be stuck in fight or flight mode, which is when you percieve everything as dangerous or a threat. This can have a negative effect on your physical, behavioural and cognitive systems.
From a physical perspective, as soon as danger is perceived, the brain sends a message to our autonomic nervous system, which is made up of two sections: the sympathetic branch and the parasympathetic branch. These two sections control the physical changes that occur in the fight/flight response. The sympathetic branch is the part that activates the various areas of the body to be ready for action. When the sympathetic branch is activated, you can experience physical symptoms including breathlessness, elevated heart rate, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, muscle tension and excessive sweating. Once the percieved danger has gone, the autonomic nervous system will instruct the parasympathetic branch to move your body into a more relaxed state but this doesn't happen immediately, and the time spent in fight/flight can have long lasting effects on people's health and wellbeing.
Because anxiety is so common in the modern world, and our bodies are regularly activating our fight/flight response, it's important to activate our parasympathetic branch as much as possible, to counteract the effects. This can be done by activating our vagus nerve (the most influential nerve in our parasympathetic nervous system.)
How to activate your vagus nerve:
- Slow, deep breaths
- Being in nature
- Cold water therapy
- Using ear seeds!
You can stimulate the vagus nerve on the surface of your ear through ear seeding namely on the concha, intertragic notch, and tragus. One of the best points for this is the Tranquilizer point, which can have an incredible sedative effect.
A study at Leeds University in 2019 showed stimulation of an area of the outer ear for 15 minutes a day for two weeks reduced the “fight or flight” response in volunteers, as well as significantly improving sleep, mood and autonomic balance compared to the placebo group.
So if you're suffering with anxiety, try ear seeds! Our ear seed kits include the full protocols for anxiety (as well as stress, headaches, immunity, digestion and focus), so give them a try and we'd love to hear how you get on.