The mind-body connection is both interesting and amazing. Often we can intervene on the mind to change the body, and intervene on the body to change the mind. With these two simple body positions, we're intervening on the body to stimulate a relaxation response in the mind.
The vagus nerve runs along the inside of the spine up to the brain and is one of the longest nerves in the human body. It runs up to the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for processing fear and anxiety. The vagus nerve is also involved in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. Stimulation of the vagus nerve is an effective way to trigger a relaxation response. Here are two ways you can do that yourself:
1. Put your hands on your head like the man in the photo. This body position opens the ribcage allowing for the diaphragm to expand in deep breathing. The diaphragm puts pressure on the vagus nerve stimulating the relaxation response. Hold this position for two minutes.
2. Hook your arms over the back of your chair. Again, this body position opens the ribcage and allows you to breath deeply using your diaphragm. In fact, you can't help but use your diaphragm in this position. The diaphragm stimulates the vagus nerve and triggers the relaxation response. Hold this position for two minutes.
Retrain your stressed-out brain
Information and research on the amygdala's role in anxiety and anger here, here, here, and here