Vagus Nerve Massage: A Soothing Technique for Stress and Anxiety Relief

vagus nerve massage

In our fast-paced and demanding world, stress and anxiety have become common companions for many. The vagus nerve, a crucial component of our nervous system, plays a significant role in regulating stress responses and promoting overall well-being.


Vagus nerve massage has gained attention in recent years for its potential to alleviate stress and anxiety. In this article, we will explore the benefits of vagus nerve massage, the points to focus on during the massage, and step-by-step instructions for performing self-massage to stimulate the vagus nerve.


Understanding the Vagus Nerve

vagus nerve


The vagus nerve, also known as the "wandering nerve," is the longest cranial nerve in our body. (1) It extends from the brainstem to various organs, including the heart, lungs, digestive system, and even the ear. It serves as a crucial bridge between the brain and the rest of the body, influencing our mental and physical well-being.


Vagus Nerve Massage Points


To effectively massage the vagus nerve, it is essential to target specific points that correspond to its pathway. The following areas are commonly associated with stimulating the vagus nerve:


1.    Neck and Throat: Gently massaging the sides of the neck, where the carotid artery can be felt pulsating, can help stimulate the vagus nerve.

2.    Behind the Earlobe: Applying light pressure behind the earlobe, where the mastoid bone is located, can activate the nerve fibers associated with the vagus nerve.

3.    Chest and Abdomen: Massaging the chest and abdomen, particularly the area just below the ribcage, can help stimulate the vagus nerve as it travels through these regions.


How to Massage the Vagus Nerve

vagus nerve massage


Performing self-massage to stimulate the vagus nerve is a simple and relaxing practice. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:


1. Find a comfortable and quiet space where you can relax without interruptions.

2. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position, ensuring your body is supported, and your breathing is steady.

3. Begin by taking a few deep breaths, focusing on inhaling and exhaling slowly.

4. Using your fingertips, apply gentle pressure to the massage points mentioned earlier, starting with the neck and throat area.

5. Move on to the area behind the earlobe, gently massaging in circular motions or using a light tapping motion.

6. Finally, shift your attention to the chest and abdomen, using gentle, circular motions to massage these areas.

7. Throughout the massage, continue taking slow, deep breaths, allowing your body to relax further with each exhale.


Benefits of Vagus Nerve Massage


Vagus nerve massage offers a range of benefits for both physical and mental well-being. Some of the potential advantages include:


  • Stress and Anxiety Relief: Massaging the vagus nerve can help activate the body's relaxation response, reducing stress and anxiety levels. (2)
  • Improved Digestion: Stimulation of the vagus nerve can enhance digestive function, alleviating symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, and abdominal discomfort. (3)
  • Enhanced Heart Health: The vagus nerve plays a vital role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure, and massage can contribute to cardiovascular well-being. (4)
  • Better Mood and Mental Clarity: Activating the vagus nerve through massage may promote the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, improving overall mental clarity and emotional balance. (2)


Additional Ways to Support Vagus Nerve Health and a Calm Nervous System

calm nervous system


In addition to vagus nerve massage, there are various practices and lifestyle choices that can support the health of your vagus nerve and promote a calm nervous system. Consider incorporating the following into your routine:


1. Deep Breathing Exercises


Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or alternate nostril breathing can activate the relaxation response, stimulate the vagus nerve, and help reduce stress and anxiety. (5)


2. Mindfulness Meditation


Engaging in regular mindfulness meditation cultivates present-moment awareness and encourages a sense of calm. This practice can positively influence the vagus nerve and overall nervous system function. (5)


3. Regular Exercise


Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis has been shown to improve vagal tone, which is an indicator of vagus nerve health. (6) Aim for a combination of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and mind-body activities like yoga or tai chi.


4. Adequate Sleep


Prioritize quality sleep as it plays a crucial role in maintaining overall nervous system health. (7) Create a relaxing bedtime routine, ensure a comfortable sleep environment, and aim for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.


5. Stress Management Techniques


Explore various stress management techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or journaling to help alleviate stress and promote a calm nervous system.


6. Social Connections


Nurturing positive social connections and engaging in meaningful relationships have been linked to improved vagus nerve function. (8) Spend time with loved ones, join social groups, or participate in activities that foster a sense of belonging.


7. Healthy Diet


A nutrient-rich diet can support overall nervous system health. (9) Focus on consuming whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Consider incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds, as they have been associated with improved vagal tone.


8. Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol


Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol can disrupt the balance of your nervous system. (10) Moderation is key, and it may be beneficial to reduce or limit your intake of these substances.


9. Regular Relaxation Practices


Engage in activities that promote relaxation and calmness, such as taking warm baths, listening to soothing music, practicing aromatherapy, or enjoying nature walks. Find what works best for you and make it a part of your self-care routine.


Remember, everyone's needs and preferences may differ, so it's important to explore and discover the practices that resonate with you personally. By incorporating these additional approaches into your lifestyle, you can support the health of your vagus nerve and cultivate a calm nervous system, leading to a greater sense of well-being and resilience in the face of stress.




Vagus nerve massage is a gentle and accessible technique that holds promise for stress and anxiety relief. By targeting specific points along the nerve's pathway and engaging in self-massage, individuals can tap into the vagus nerve's potential to promote relaxation and overall well-being. By incorporating vagus nerve massage into your self-care routine, you can take proactive steps toward managing stress and enhancing your quality of life.


It's important to note that vagus nerve massage should be performed gently and with awareness of your body's limits. If you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new self-care practices.


In addition to vagus nerve massage, it's worth exploring other complementary practices that can support stress reduction and relaxation. These may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and regular physical activity. By adopting a holistic approach to self-care, you can create a well-rounded routine that nurtures your mind, body, and spirit.




Products mentioned in this post

True Health Starts with Feeding the Body

Subscribe to receive updates, access to exclusive deals, and more.