Soft hearts, this is my only post this month about something other than EMDR. I have to share with you about my journey with coping. There are gazillions of ways I’ve coped and ways I’ve shared with others about coping, but the vagus nerve, specifically cold on the vagus nerve has been amazing.
When I first heard about using cold compresses or taking a cold shower from my therapist I thought, “no problem” with the cold compress to my heart space. I thought, “this is amazing because I naturally do that with my hand anyway.” My hands tend to be cold most of the time so I put them on my heart space to self soothe. I just did this and didn’t even know it was a thing! Well when my therapist said I could put an ice pack on my heart space to help my parasympathetic nervous system. I knew that the parasympathetic nervous system is crucial to calming from states of nervousness. I knew that this helps us come down when we’re in survival mode. I also knew that this meant I could slow my heart rate and relax! She also told me that putting these ice packs on my chest or upper back would even tone my vagus nerve over time!
Like I said, I was sold! You saw me walking around with an ice pack on my chest. It worked for me. I also was happy to go the cold compress way instead of cold shower way! Cold showers make me think of older family members from Iran who might wonder what the heck I was doing with access to clean, warm water icing myself. It also made me think of diving into the water for water polo practice in high school around 5 or 6 am. It was so cold! I just figured the cold compress was working and it was plenty cold enough for me!
Then Mr. Darius Fennell, my favorite Mental Health Recovery Advocate, shared that cold showers were part of HIS toolkit. I was listening to this man in awe of how he puts in so much for his mental wellness thinking, “wait, I can try it too.” I can level up my cold compresses for cold showers and see how it goes. I couldn’t wait to share how these cold showers with slow breaths are going great. You can learn more about how Mr. Fennell does it in a way that gets him ready for anxious or panic moments and how it actually does tone the vagus nerve. Mr. Fennell explains his way of a mind-body approach to this vagus nerve healing tool!
I wish you could tell how excited I am when I say that it REALLY WORKS for me! This is changing my life over here and I couldn’t wait to tell you. I do recommend you talk with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you (like ask about blood pressure, lung issues, and more).
I also think you’ll be really grateful you watched the whole video so you get info on Mr. Fennell’s book and more information on his concept of the toolkit. As someone in the filed I’ve referred to a toolkit a bunch, but the way he talks about collecting data, doing the work in and between sessions, and changing things up as you go is revolutionary. I can’t wait to order his Leaving Jupiter book for more. I couldn’t wait until February to share how much the vagus nerve stuff is helping, but for now we can go back to more EMDR articles for the month. For now, here’s the full episode just for you.