By Dr Kristin Webb (Chiropractor)
Are you feeling New Year, New You?
Do you aim to to learn to better manage your stress in 2024?
Are you interested in meditation & breath work?
Are you overwhelmed by how to make change? Time poor? Struggle to get in the head space for meditation even when you put aside the time?
This was me! I’ve always liked the idea of meditation, I’ve had good intentions & strived to find better ways to manage by body’s response to stress but always struggled to get in the head space and integrate it into my routine.
Listening to a podcast last year I learned about a technique called “The Physiological Sigh”. Ever since, I have used this daily and found it very effective in calming my nervous system when I go into fight or flight mode, helping my body’s response acute stress, and what I like to call ‘settling my head noise’.
It can take 30 seconds or 5 minutes. I could not recommend it enough!
A recent study from Stanford Medicine highlights the powerful impact of physiological sighs in combating anxiety and improving overall mood. Physiological sighs involve taking two sharp inhales followed by an extended exhale.
Take a deep inhale through your nose, into your belly, once you feel you’ve filled your lungs as much as you can take another deep inhale through your nose on top of that. Hold this for 2-3 seconds and then proceed to very slowly exhale through your mouth.
And that’s it!
This controlled breathing technique, when practiced for five minutes, has shown to lower anxiety, enhance mood, and decrease resting breathing rates, indicating a state of overall body calmness.
Neurobiologist Andrew Huberman emphasizes the importance of the second inhale for both oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release. The exhale activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate and inducing a soothing effect on the body.
The study involved a randomized, controlled trial with 111 volunteers. Cyclic sighing was compared to other breathing exercises, including one focusing on inhalation and another involving equal-duration inhaling and exhaling also known as box breathing. Additionally, a control group practiced mindful meditation. The results showed that the controlled breathing groups, particularly those employing cyclic sighs, reported more significant improvements in mood compared to the mindfulness meditation group. The simple and accessible nature of physiological sighs makes them an attractive option for individuals seeking a quick and effective stress-relief technique.