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Exercises To Get Out Of Dorsal Vagal Shutdown

Posted by Kelsey Juntwait on

Experiencing a nervous system shutdown can be a frightening thing for anyone, so it's important to know the multiple different exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown.

Dorsal vagal shutdown is the physiological response of the nervous system that occurs when the body perceives a threat. You might know this response as entering a "freeze" state after experiencing a fight or flight response. The dorsal vagus nerve, which controls organs like the heart and lungs, slows down or even stops under these circumstances — resulting in a temporary cessation of bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, and maintaining heart rate. Scientists also believe that dorsal vagal shutdown plays a role in certain medical conditions such as fainting and seizures. In some cases, this response can be beneficial. However, if it's prolonged or occurs during inappropriate situations, it can lead to serious health implications like coma or cardiac arrest. So knowing the exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown is critical to keeping yourself healthy and thriving.

Exercises To Get Out Of Dorsal Vagal Shutdown

Somatic Exercises

While there's multiple different exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown, somatic exercise is what we recommend the most.

Somatic exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown is the best way to both manage the symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown and also to get yourself out of that shutdown state.

When the body is in dorsal vagal shutdown, the body's nervous system reacts to stress by shutting down the parasympathetic nervous system — leading to a range of dangerous symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

Somatic exercises work by retraining the brain and body to respond to stress in a more adaptive way. They involve movements that increase awareness of sensations in the body, such as breathing, stretching, and gentle movements.

By practicing somatic exercises regularly, you can learn to recognize and release tension in your body, which can help reduce symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown.

Additionally, somatic exercises can also help improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation and calmness — making them a valuable tool to not just get out of dorsal vagal shutdown but to better the health and wellbeing of the both the body and mind. 


Other exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown include any sort of low-impact walking exercise.

When the body is in dorsal vagal shutdown, it can be difficult to motivate oneself to engage in any kind of physical activity. However, walking can help to gently stimulate the body and mind without putting undue stress or strain on the system.

By increasing blood flow and circulation, walking can also help to improve mental clarity and focus, which can be particularly beneficial during periods of emotional and physical distress.

Additionally, walking can provide a sense of grounding and stability, which can be helpful for individuals dealing with anxiety or depression.

Walking is one of the exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown because it helps to gradually re-engage your body with physical activity so it can break the cycle of disconnection and disassociation.


Symptoms of dorsal vagal shutdown include a slowed heart rate, decreased blood pressure, shallow breathing, and a feeling of numbness or disconnection from the world — which makes swimming one of the excellent exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown.

Swimming engages the body in physical activity while providing a meditative, calming environment. This is because the water's buoyancy and resistance can activate the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes rest and relaxation.

Additionally, swimming can help improve heart and lung function, reduce anxiety, and increase circulation, which can all contribute to the recovery from dorsal vagal shutdown.

Somatic Exercises To Get Out Of Dorsal Vagal Shutdown For GOOD

Somatic exercises are the best way to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown because they activate the vagus nerve with gentle movements, which regulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Gentle movements like shaking, contracting, and releasing muscles can help individuals regain control of their bodies. And that's exactly what somatic exercises do. These exercises can help resolve chronic stress, trauma and anxiety by activating the body's natural healing mechanisms.

Practicing these exercises can also alleviate depression, loneliness, and fatigue. People who suffer from chronic pain, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome can also benefit from somatic exercises. Incorporating these exercises regularly into your routine can help promote relaxation, boost the immune system, and increase emotional resilience. By connecting mind and body, individuals can safely rewire their nervous system to function in a more balanced state.

So while walking and swimming are also both exceptionally beneficial exercises to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown — somatic exercises are what keeps your body out of dorsal vagal shutdown for good

Try out our Signature Program to start a 60-day program to get out of dorsal vagal shutdown with somatic exercises!