I recently wrote a blog on the nervous system and vagus nerve and how important it is when it comes to regulating your overall body functioning at optimal levels. In this blog I wanted to build on that and explain to you the vagal brake and why it might be a missing piece to your self care and body concept understanding.

The Vagal Break Defined

The vagal brake is the autonomic pathway in mammals. It is essentially the influence of the social engagement system on the heart. When the ventral pathways are active it will help to keep your heart rate at a slower and calmer pace but without the ventral pathway active, you would have an increased heart rate. This social engagement system is at the top of your polyvagal ladder.

Why is it important?

When your vagal brake is strong, your daily life can be more manageable, your overall stress level is lower, and there is less perceived threat. You have a calmer heartbeat so you are less likely to get worked up about things and have lower levels of stress and anxiety. 

So how do you strengthen your vagal break so you can function at optimal levels?

How to strengthen your vagal brake

  1. Pendulation: You go back and forth between the stuck and defensive state to the state of safety through “going up and down the polyvagal ladder.” You have to have an anchor which is something that can ground you in the present moment. This is the way you strengthen your nervous system’s ability to tolerate stress. 
  2. Titration: This is the act of feeling into your defensive state a little bit at a time. This requires a firm anchoring in your ventral vagal pathway and is best done with a practitioner. You experience in small doses where these feelings live, how they feel, and what your body and mind do in response to it. 
  3. Return to the present moment: If you struggle to live in the present moment, it is a sign that your polyvagal pathway needs strengthening. We work together in finding what anchors you in the present moment when things start to feel overwhelming. 

When you have a strengthened vagal brake you feel more at ease, your heart rate is calmer, you are less likely to be triggered, and you have a better grasp on your emotional regulation. The vagal brake is just one pillar to support your physical and mental health and strengthen your capacity for stress and anxiety. This helps you build the foundation for sustaining your mental and physical health. 

What next?

Are you ready to take the next steps to physically change the makeup of your vagal nervous system in order to reduce stress and anxiety? 

If you are, sign up for a free clarity call where we can work together to get to the root of your struggles and find long lasting solutions and healing. I can not wait to connect with you and I look forward to hearing about your journey. 

As always, thank you for saving room for me in your inbox and if you don’t already, follow me on Instagram where I share posts about all things psychology, self-care, and neuroscience.

Sending love and wellbeing your way!

Lisa 🧠

Leave a Reply

Explore Courses


10 Hacks for Creating Emotional and Mental Wellness


Nervous System Reset Membership


Chaos to Calm Kick Starter Program


The Chaos to Calm Summit