Feelings of stress and anxiety can take over out of the blue.
And for many, it happens suddenly… and often.
Our heart rates quicken, our breathing shallows, and we can no longer focus on normal tasks.
But what if there was something you could do—in FIVE minutes flat—to squash those negative feelings?
Better yet, you can do it anytime, anywhere…
In a randomized controlled study, researchers discovered that letting out a big sigh could improve mood and reduce stress.
In fact, cyclic breathing—characterized by short inhalations and prolonged exhalations, or “sighing”—was found to work better than mindfulness meditation! (Perhaps our wrist devices should tell us to sigh instead of breathe…)
For the analysis, a little over 100 participants were recruited. Then, researchers compared three different breathwork exercises—performed daily for five minutes each—to an equal amount of mindfulness meditation over a one-month period.
Those exercises included:
- Cyclic hyperventilation (robust inhalation, short retention, rapid exhalation)
- Exhale-focused cycling
- Box breathing (equal duration of inhalation, retention, and exhalation)
- Mindfulness meditation (served as the control group)
Researchers looked for improvements in mood—as well as a reduced physiological response (like breathing rate and heart rate).
They found controlled breathwork, specifically exhale-focused cyclic sighing, created the greatest positive effects.
Breathe with a purpose
In my view, we can always use new ways to reduce how we experience stress. And the easier, the better.
Well, I think that’s exactly what this study found.
Who knew simply exhaling could create a physiological response within the body that causes the heart rate to slow and the mind to ease… in just five minutes!?
Not to mention, I love interventions that are inexpensive (it doesn’t get cheaper than this!), easy to incorporate into any routine, generate a positive effect quickly (all it takes is five minutes!), and that YOU have total control over.
Plus, we all have to breathe anyway, so why not use it to our advantage?
I mean, I bet we all sigh daily as it is—at least once. So, make that sigh work for you…
Rather than sighing for sadness, relief, or tiredness—give it a try when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Then, see how you feel.
I’m going to start doing this myself. And I hope you’ll join me!
“’Sighing’ Tops Mindfulness for Reduced Stress, Improved Mood.” Medscape, 02/02/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/987805)