Sighing, it doesn't mean you are grumpy, a useful tool to de-stress

Humans and in-fact other mammals sigh automatically once every few minutes in order for us to maintain proper lung function, we do it naturally in our sleep too. We may notice sighs in relation to emotional states, such as when we are feeling stressed, the moment passes and relief strikes, or when we feel sadness, helplessness and pleasure, 'ooh my that sticky toffee cake oozing butterscotch sauce' type sigh.

Sighing has benefits, and neuroscientists have been looking into the positive impact that a good old sigh can have on an agitated nervous system.

If you are having a moment in the day where you notice you are feeling agitated, can't focus, your head is too busy with a thousand racing thoughts you can have yourself a 'physiological sigh'. Sighing does two things, it helps us to re balance the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs and bloodstream (too much carbon dioxide can leave us feeling tired – impacting on our productivity) but it also activates neurons that are specifically designed for sighing and who send a message to the part of our brain that controls our parasympathetic nervous system.

So, have a bash at a physiological sigh to help you to unwind and de-stress. This is slightly different to the usual inhale and long exhale, instead you double inhale, then sigh, repeat a few times. It's important to remember it's two inhales and then a sigh, as the additional inhale scoops up extra carbon dioxide and allows you to release it.

This is a quick and easy tool, nobody else needs to know, and you can crack on with the day. Also, don't forget to open a window and let some fresh air in.


You can remind yourself with the mantra 'if in doubt sigh-it-out'. 

 

Harwell, Oxon

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