Controlled breathing exercises, such as sighing, have been shown to be potential tools for stress management and well-being.
One of the main distinguishing features of common breathing techniques is the emphasis on the relative duration and intensity of inhalation versus exhalation.
In particular, cyclical sighing with exhalation leads to a greater improvement in mood (p < 0.05) and reduction in breathing frequency (p < 0.05) compared to mindfulness meditation. Sighing and mindfulness meditation both lead to a reduction in negative emotions, including anxiety.
This is the result of a randomised, controlled remote study by Balban et al. 2023.
Retreat to a place where you can make sighing noises undisturbed and relaxed.
Find a relaxed and stable posture, either sitting on a chair or sitting cross-legged, half-lotus or on your heels on the floor.
Set yourself a timer and set it to 5 minutes: I choose a gong sound, downloadable free of charge as an app.
The actual practice of the breathing exercise is simple: sigh as you exhale in the way that feels most natural and relaxed to you.
Alternative: If it is good for you, you can also visualise breathing in relaxation and breathing out all stress.
Once your mood has improved and relaxation has increased after 5 minutes, you can anchor this state. To do this, cross your arms over your chest as if you were holding yourself and tap your upper arm alternately left and right with your hands at a comfortable speed about 20 times
Balban MY, Neri E, Kogon MM, Weed L, Nouriani B, Jo B, Holl G, Zeitzer JM, Spiegel D, Huberman AD. Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell Rep Med. 2023 Jan 17;4(1):100895.