• Ventral Vagal Nervous System

    The ventral vagal complex, or ventral vagal nervous system, elicits calm in your nervous system through connecting with others.

    Since this system can help trigger calm, we want to try to engage it when we are feeling stressed. Social connections can help us feel anchored and safe. It is a strong urge to engage, and that is also why we can find ourselves reaching out to people we know are not healthy. That is why you have seen more people hitting up their exes in this quarantine. That doesn’t make it healthy, but hopefully it helps it make more sense.

    In addition to the straight forward calling or speaking to someone, ways to activate this system include humming, smiling or making eye contact with another person.

    Stephen Porges, who originally hypothesized the existence of this system, noted that extending exhales longer than inhales for a period of time activates this part of the nervous system.

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