Sedating Sighing

Feeling stressed? Let out a sigh!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Stress and worry are unavoidable. In the right amounts, these feelings can actually be good. But too much can leave us feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Could we ease our stress in a simple, organic way?

Enter Melis Balban and colleagues at Stanford University. 

The researchers compared stress reduction methods with OVER one hundred people. They practiced one of three different types of breathing exercises OR meditated for five minutes. Then they tracked participants’ mental and physical wellbeing for a month. 

Results? Meditation AND all three breathing techniques improved mood and lowered anxiety! But, the biggest mood boost was seen in those who practiced something called ”cyclic sighing.” This consists of two NASAL inhales followed by a longer exhale through the MOUTH. Like this:  *Deep nose inhale, quick nose inhale, long mouth exhale.*

Worried about a big exam or job interview? Try cyclic sighing!

But don’t hold your breath when you don’t get what you want. That’s what chocolate is for.


Balban, M. Y., Neri, E., Kogon, M. M., Weed, L., Nouriani, B., Jo, B., Holl, G., Zeitzer, J. M., Spiegel, D., & Huberman, A. D. (2023). Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell reports. Medicine, 4(1), 100895.