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Face-to-face connectedness, oxytocin and your vagus nerve

This Psychology Today blog post is phase three of a nine-part series called “The Vagus Nerve Survival Guide.” The nine vagal maneuvers featured in each of these blog posts are designed to help you stimulate your vagus nerve — which can reduce stress, anxiety, anger, and inflammation by activating the “relaxation response” mechanisms of your parasympathetic nervous system. Face-to-face social connectedness fortifies the “tend-and-befriend” parasympathetic response and engages your vagus nerve. This improves vagal tone and counteracts stress responses associated with “fight-or-flight” mechanisms. Social connectedness has also been clinically proven to improve heart rate variability (HRV), which is the measurement of variations within beat-to-beat intervals and indicates a healthy heart. As I described in the introduction to this series, your vagus nerve is the prime driving force of the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates your “rest-and-digest” or “tend-and-befriend”…