Hum Yourself Out of Stress


  • The vagus nerve is part of the nervous system that connects your brain to your body organs. It controls things like digestion, heart rate, and mood.
  • Stress activates the fight-or-flight response and harms the vagus nerve.
  • Humming stimulates the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
  • Other ways to stimulate the vagus nerve include gargling, foot massage, cold water immersion, eating fiber, and laughter.
“Many times at the gym, people will look at me because
I’ll be on the treadmill humming.” ~ Kristin Chenoweth


Ho hum, ho hum, it’s simple and such fun, you’ll wish you’d known the power of humming ages ago. Wait till you hear why it's as effective as regular walking for cardiovascular health, how it boosts your immune system and transports you to ‘rest and digest’ mode.

Nothing Vague About the Vagus Nerve

Realizing the vital role of the vagus nerve has caused a stir in the mind-body connection. A part of the parasympathetic nervous system, most of us have left it to the body’s autonomic function and seldom give it even a moment’s thought. Not after today!

Sure, there are huge areas of body function that function without our conscious awareness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach them and assist where needs be. We don’t need to think to breathe, but when we direct our own breathing, we gain access to these subconscious controls.

In her book Vagus Nerve Secrets: How to Activate Your Vagus Nerve and How Access Your Body's Self- Healing Power, author Roberta Rivera notes:

"The nervous system runs from your brain through your whole body, with the vagus nerve touching everything from your heart and lungs to the intestines and bladder. It's all connected and it isn't just the brain making things work throughout the body. What your body is going through is also a big part of your brain health. I liken it to a pond. If the pH is off or if one plant starts to overgrow, the entire system is wonky. It can be almost impossible to reset, because if you change the pH it changes everything. Just like that, if one part of your body is off, the rest of it will be altered, too, thanks to the nervous system."

Humming to Vagus and Back

The vibrational effect on the vagus nerve induced by humming on purpose is both instantaneous and powerful. The moment we breathe shallowly or hold our breath in anticipation of something stressful, we activate the body’s fight-flight-freeze responses, which result in increased pain, body stiffness, fear and anxiety.

The brain signals a rush of the stress hormone, cortisol, to flood through the body keeping it in a state of readiness – which is great when there is actual danger, but when we’re stressed out and anxious of anything other than life-threatening situations, humming  induces your ‘rest and digest’ state telling the vagus nerve to bring you back to normal. This kind of air exchange in your lungs floods nitric oxide throughout the body, obliterating toxins. Let's hear from the experts:

  • “Nitric oxide in the lungs will kill or inhibit the growth of many bacteria, parasites, and viruses, especially the coronavirus” - Lou Ignarro, Ph.D.,
  • "If you do 10 seconds of humming, all the air is exchanged. With normal breathing, it takes between a half-hour and one hour."- Eddie Weitzberg, M.D.
  • If your parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t stabilize and calm you, you may be living in a constant state of anxiety. You are also at higher risk of other health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.”  -  Yufang Lin, MD.

How to Hum

So, get to it. YouTube, of course, is abuzz with humming videos, so look for whatever blows your stress away and keep it as your secret weapon against stress and anxiety. Create vibrations in your throat and nasal cavity, keeping the top of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth.

If you are alone you may with to place your thumbs on the little ‘flap’ where your ear joins your face and gently press them to block your ears and you’ll feel the sensation of humming more acutely, helping you to resonate with your calmer inner self.

Allied Services Integrated Health Systems provides other vagus nerve stimulants besides breathing, as follows:

  • Loud gargling: with water or loud singing activates our vocal cords which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve.
  • Foot massage: gentle or firm touch can assist in stimulation the vagus nerve.
  • Cold water face immersion: immerse your forehead eyes and at least 2/3 of both cheeks into cold water. This elicits the vagus nerve, decreasing heart rate, stimulating the intestines and turns on the immune system
  • Eating fibre: stimulates vagus impulses to the brain slowing the gut movements and making us feel fuller after meals
  • Laughter: having a good laugh lifts your mood, boosts your immune system and stimulates the vagus nerve.

Try the humming technique for 21 days and feel the difference in your demeanour, overall health and well-being.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical or psychological advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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