Matcha Tea


A suggestion I have that helps alleviate anxiety, is drinking Matcha Tea, which is a traditional Japanese style tea. It contains an ingredient called L-Theanine, which helps calm the mood, in much higher doses than regular green tea. It also apparently has more antioxidants than regular green tea as well. 

I find drinking the green tea does help me feel calm for a while , so it may work for others. 





Vagus Nerve Exercises

What's the Vagus Nerve?

• Turn on neurogenesis, helping our brains sprout new brain cells.
• Rapidly turn off the stress, hyper-arousal, and fight/flight via the relaxation response.
• Sharpen our memories.
• Fight inflammatory disease.
• Help you resist high blood pressure.
• Block the hormone cortisol and other oxidizing agents that age and deteriorate the brain
   and body
• Block systemic (body-wide) inflammation - a major factor behind aging and poor health.
• Help us overcome depression and anxiety.
• Help us sleep better.
• Raise levels of human growth hormone.
• Help us overcome insulin resistance.
• Turn down allergic responses.
• Lower chances of getting stress and tension headaches.
• Help spare and grow our mitochondria- this is a key to maintaining optimal energy levels and
   not harming our DNA and RNA.
• Affect our overall ability to live longer, healthier, and more energetic lives. 

How to Activate the Vagus Nerve on Your Own?
Vagus nerve stimulation can be turned on easily though a number of breathing and relaxation techniques:

•Deep/slow belly breathing.
•'OM' Chanting
•Cold water face immersion after exercise
•Filling the mouth with saliva and submerging your tongue to trigger a hyper-relaxing vagal
•Loud gargling with water
•Loud singing

To practice deep breathing, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Remember to:
•Breathe more slowly.
•Breathe more deeply, from the belly.
•Exhale longer than you inhale.

Using Breathing to Reduce Pain
You can learn to use breathing exercises to shift your focus away from pain. The human mind
processes one thing at a time. If you focus on the rhythm of your breathing, you're not focused on
the pain. The moment we anticipate pain, most of us tend to stop breathing and hold our breath.
Breath holding activates the fight/flight/freeze response, it tends to increase the sensation of pain,
stiffness, anxiety, or fear.

You can proceed as follows: take a deep inhalation into your belly (i.e. expanding your diaphragm) to
the count of five, pause, and then exhale slowly through a small hole in your mouth. While at rest
most people take about 10 to 14 breaths per minute. To get into parasympathetic/ relaxation/
healing mode it is ideal to reduce your breath to 5 to 7 times per minute. Exhaling through your
mouth instead of nose makes your breathing more of a conscious process, and helps you to observe
your breath more easily.

As you reduce your breaths per minute and get into parasympathetic mode, your muscles will relax,
dropping your worries and anxieties. The oxygen supply to your body's cells increases and this helps
produce endorphins, the body's feel-good hormones. Tibetan monks have been practicing 'conscious
breathing' for decades, but there is nothing mysterious about it. You can enhance your experience
by imagining that you inhale IN love, and exhale OUT gratitude. These ancient techniques also will
improve memory, fight depression, lower blood pressure, or heart rate, and boost your immune
systems — and it's free!

'OM' Chanting
An interesting study was performed by the International Journal of Yoga in 2011, where 'OM'
chanting was compared with pronunciation of 'SSS' as well as a rest state to determine if chanting is
more stimulatory to the vagus nerve. The study found that the chanting actually was more effective
than either the 'sss' pronunciation or the rest state.
Effective 'OM' chanting is associated with the experience of a vibration sensation around the ears
and throughout the body. It is expected that such a sensation is also transmitted through the
auricular branch of the vagus nerve and will produce limbic (HPA axis) deactivation.fiii]

How to chant?
Hold the vowel (o) part of the 'OM' for 5 seconds then continue into the consonant (m) part for the
next 10 seconds. Continue chanting for 10 minutes. Conclude with some deep breathing and end
with gratitude.

Cold Water
Physical exercise causes an increase in sympathetic activity (HPA axis - fight/flight, stress response),
along with parasympathetic withdrawal (resting, digesting, healing, immune system), resulting in
higher heart rates (HR). Studies have found that cold water face immersion appears to be a simple
and efficient means of immediately accelerating post-exercise parasympathetic reactivation via the
vagus nerve, stimulating the reduction of heart rate, motility of the intestines, and turns on the
immune system. It is also effective in a non-exercise environment to activate the vagus nerve.
In cold-water face immersion, subjects remained seated and bend their head forward into a basin of
cold water. The face is immersed so that the forehead, eyes, and at least two-thirds of both cheeks
were submerged. Water temperature was kept at 10-12°C.

Increased Salivation
The calmer the mind and the deeper the relaxation, the easier the stimulation of salivation is. When
the mouth is able to produce copious amounts of saliva, you know that the Vagus Nerve has been
stimulated and your body is in the parasympathetic mode.
To stimulate salivation, try relaxing and reclining in a chair and imagine a juicy lemon. As your mouth
fills with saliva, just rest your tongue in this bath (if this doesn't happen, just fill your mouth with a
small amount of warm water and rest your tongue in this bath. Just the practice of relaxing will
stimulate the secretion of saliva). Now relax further, and feel your hands, feet, hips, back of the neck
and head all relaxing. Breathe deeply into this feeling and stay here as long as you can.

Recovery from OCD story

Last year I spoke at the OCD & Anxiety Disorders Recovery stones seminar.  At that time I was really pleased because I was steadily recovering from OCD.  I felt much more in control of my life and my OCD symptoms had decreased to a point where I was able to work and socialise successfully.  As I write this letter now I am amazed by my progress since that session last year.  I am pleased to say that I now have recovered to the extent that I can go many weeks without any OCD related behaviour.  In fact in the last week and a half I had two triggers that would have set off OCD obsessive thoughts only six months ago.  The triggers were related to obsessive thoughts about harining others.  However my thinking patterns are so different now, that I had got past those triggers without even thinking about it.  It wasn't until I spoke to my psychologist this week and thought about those triggers that I realised that cognitive thinking patterns come to me now automatically.  I get past the trigger by using the method of targeting thoughts and this happens without me thinking consciously about it.  This was a very exciting moment for me.  I knew I was feeling much better, but didn't take the time to think about why.  So I thought I would share my thoughts about recovery with you.


I see recovery from OCD as being a bit like being on a rollercoaster ride.  I found myself improving or going up the hill and then going downwards slightly but the nect hill seems higher and I can stay there for longer until the next downhill.  My recovery in the last year has taken giant leaps forward and I believe that there are a number of factors that have contributed to this.

I have finally accepted OCD as an illness that I have no control over.  I know that having the illness says nothing about me as a person.  Earlier this year I accepted the invitation to participate in the production of a video for Tribal Video Productions about OCD.  At first I was apprehensive because I was worried about who might see the video and what they might think about me.  However participating in the video was a really empowering thing to do because it helped me finally come to an acceptance of having OCD and feeling good about who I am.  It is interesting when I look at the video now because it helps me to see how far I have come even since that interview.

In February this year I started working with a new psychologist and I started taking medication at the same time.  I don't want to advocate taking medication as a 'cure' for OCD, but medication has helped me to take the next step in my recovery.  I hadn't taken any medication up until the beginning of this year and I had thought I had recovered as much as I was going to.  I suppose I had been a bit reluctant to take medication.  When I started taking the medication it was terrible.  I had nausea and sleepless nights but I persisted with it.  I met with the psychologist once a week for a few months and she was incredibly supportive, empathetic and worked with me in making a plan for tackling some issues that I had been unable to tackle before.  I think the combination of psychological treatment and medication has worked well in helping me with my recovery.  I am going to see my psychologist occasionally now just to touch base and talk about things that I feel are important to me.

I joined an all women's gym to try and improve my overall fitness level and general health.  This was a brilliant change to my lifestyle.  I have always been fairly active but attending the gym has been a great way to improve my fitness and feel good about myself I workout with a personal trainer once a fortnight and then try to get to the gym three times a week.  I've noticed that since first attending the gym six months ago, my self-esteem has improved and my energy levels have increased.  I have not had any depressive episodes for a few months now and I believe that the gym work has helped to prevent that.

This year has been lots of hard work in sticking to my goals and continuing to make progress in recovery.  I have done some things in the last few months that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing a year ago.  I am working a full week that includes two part time jobs.  I am really enjoying my work, especially since I no longer have to check doors, cupboards and computers many times a day!  I have bought a unit in Geelong and will sM to look for employment there soon.  I have been taking horse riding lessons, something I have wanted to do for over twenty years.

I believe that it is important to share my story of recovery with other OCD sufferers and the wider community.  If you are an OCD sufferer or a carer of an OCD sufferer, I hope this story provides you with a message of hope.  For others in the community I hope you will gain an understanding of what it is like to live with OCD and how important it is to support and encourage those people in the community who deal daily with the torment of OCD and who are fighting hard to recover. 

Kaye Widdowson

Published in ARCVic newsletter Summer 2001

OCD Group - Surrey Hills

Meets the LAST Wednesday each month.

Many people affected by obsessive compulsive disorder find it helpful to talk with others who share similar experiences. Discussing symptoms, self help ideas and strategies in a relaxed and understanding environment can be a great support to recovery.

Venue: Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria, 292 Canterbury Rd, Surrey Hills, VIC

Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Cost: Free (gold coin donation appreciated)

2020 Dates: 27th May, 24th June, 29th July, 26th August, 30th September, 28th October, 25th November.






About OCD

Hi, I am 12 years old and one of the unlucky OCD sufferers out there.  To all those out there who don’t know what OCD is, it is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 


This particular disease causes children to think unwanted thoughts or even lead to washing their hands up to 50 times a day!  I for one have the unwanted thoughts which can include killing people, family members being bad people, or even nasty thoughts about the devil.  Although we will never act on these thoughts, it is hard to stop thinking about them.  I also know a close person who suffers from the other type of OCD where you can’t stop thinking about germs.  This can also lead to not being able to go to the toilet in fear of getting germs.  I have been seeing a therapist with my OCD and it really has helped me in lots of ways.  When I first started seeing her I was really scared that there was something wrong with me, but after a while seeing this person, she helped me to realise that I had OCD.  At first I was so ecstatic realising that none of my horrible thoughts were real but that wasn’t the end of that.  I had to work out the right strategy for me that would help me to stop analysing these thoughts.  I couldn’t have gotten through it all without the help of my wonderful parents and my therapist.  I am still not fully over my OCD but I know I have come a long way since the beginning.  I hope after reading this you will begin to realise the thoughts involved in OCD and that sometimes the best way to get over OCD is to see someone about it and come out in the open.


Contribution to The Opening Door, ARCVic Newsletter, June 2003.