Trauma Research Foundation

Blog Postpost

Posted Sunday April, 19th 2020

Polyvagal Theory, Stephen Porges: If There Was Ever a Time to Activate Your Vagus Nerve, It Is Now

Porges blog

If you experience a racing heartbeat or tightness in your chest when you read a news story about the pandemic, it’s because of your sympathetic nervous system. When the brain senses a threat, it triggers the fight-or-flight response.

On the flip side, your parasympathetic nervous system plays a role in calming your body. For example, escaping from a grizzly bear and returning to your safe, cozy cave signals to the brain that the threat is gone, so the stress responds ends. Now that you’ve resolved the threat, you can return to a state of peace.

But what happens when a stressor doesn’t have a definitive ending — like, say, a pandemic that might go on for months? You could suffer some significant health consequences — unless you intervene, with the help of your nervous system.

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