When you next have anxiety, try humming a short melody. Humming is one of
the simplest methods shared by TikTok founders as one of many ways to
stimulate the vagus nerve for relaxation and stress alleviation.
According to physical therapist Dr. Udim Isang, PT, DPT, CSRS, the vagus nerve
is crucial to the functioning of your autonomic nervous system. Your heart
rate, digestion, and respiration rate are just a few of the bodily processes that
it helps control as it moves from behind your ears through your neck to your
According to Isang, "the sympathetic nervous system activates the fight-or-
flight response when the body experiences stress, which can cause an
accelerated heart rate and other stress-related symptoms." The vagus nerve
serves as a counterbalance to this reaction by encouraging the rest and digest
state, which lowers heart rate, reduces inflammation, and promotes calm.
How can humming aid in relaxation, then? According to holistic clinical
psychologist Dr. Easton Gaines of New York, "it's all about the vibes — quite
literally." "When you hum, the vibrations produced by your vocal muscles
travel down your throat and chest, stimulating the vagus nerve and inducing a
Your voice cords vibrate and the nerves in your neck are massaged as you utter
a throaty "hmmm," which helps activate your parasympathetic nervous
system. Gaines claims that our physiology's yin and yang are represented by
the autonomic nervous system. "The vagus nerve is the star player on team
chill. It slows our heart rate and encourages digestion to help us recover from
According to Isang, humming encourages the release of nitric oxide, which has
a relaxing impact on the body, and also aids in slowing breathing rate. "All of
these things help you unwind and reduce stress."
Gaines claims that humming is a useful strategy to have in your arsenal of anti-
anxiety techniques but that it is not a quick remedy. She tells Bustle, "Think of
it as a gentle, immediate mood booster that can bring you closer to
relaxation." You can use it in conjunction with other relaxation techniques to
create a potent stress-reduction toolkit.
How to Hum for Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Isang advises taking a few deep breaths to assist you relax before beginning
your humming session in order to activate your parasympathetic nervous
system. You can either hum a tune from then on out or try a lengthy,
continuous one-note hum. Once you feel less agitated, hum for a few seconds,
take a slow, deep breath, and hum again.
There is no set amount of time needed, but Isang advises beginning with a few
minutes of humming. The important thing is the rhythmic, controlled breathing
and the vibration produced, not the loudness of your humming.