Research has shown that deep breathing is a relaxation aid, reminding the body of a previously experienced state of relaxation. Thus, breathing deeply is a simple and quick way to lower the level of stress felt: this practice sends a message to the brain to calm and relax. The brain then sends this same message to the body. One of the best known practices in this field is cardiac coherence, which increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for the involuntary functions of the body), and at the same time reduces that of the sympathetic nervous system, which results in a slowing of the heart rate. According to researchers at Stanford University in California, a similar exercise would greatly improve mood, provided, however, that you practice it every day for at least a month. Their published study in the review Cell Reports Medicine indicates that practicing a simple breathing exercise for only 5 minutes during this period is very useful for regulating one’s emotions in case of anxiety.
But there are dozens breathing techniques and patterns that help reduce stress and anxiety. Which one is most likely to offer the most mood benefits? To answer this question, researcher Melis Yilmaz Balban and his colleagues randomly assigned 114 people, with an average age of 27, to practice one of three mindful breathing exercises offered for 5 minutes a day at home, at home. any time that was convenient for them for 28 days. The goal: to teach them to slow down their breathing in order to ensure that their heart rate also adopts a more leisurely rhythm (and with it their negative thoughts). The first breathing exercise was the cyclic sigh, also known as the “physiological sigh” or “double inhalation”. This breathing pattern involves inhaling slowly, then taking another short breath to fully inflate the lungs, before exhaling for as long as possible. The latter is even the subject of great interest for the Government scientists and engineers in the United Kingdom, which specifies the terms and conditions.
“It’s something we do all the time involuntarily”
The organization clarifies about it that “ it’s something we do involuntarily all the time, about every 5 minutes, including before we’re about to fall asleep, during sleep, and when we cry. “He also adds that” when we inhale twice, the collapsed alveoli reinflate with air. This increases the surface area of the lungs and removes CO2 from the body much more efficiently. It makes the body more relaxed. When we take long exhales, receptors in the heart detect the increased pressure, which sends signals to the brain to slow the heart rate and create a feeling of relaxation. The second exercise was “square” breathing, which is based on four breathing phases that must each have the same duration (in seconds): inspiration, retention with full lungs, expiration and retention with empty lungs. According to the online explanations of the National School of Sailing and Water Sports, this exercise allows a deeper relaxation and an anti-stress action if it is practiced over twenty cycles.
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Finally, the last breathing exercise to practice was “cyclical hyperventilation with retention”, which involves adopting longer and more intense inspirations and shorter and passive exhalations. It is more precisely a question of inhaling deeply (ideally through the nose but if this is not possible, inhaling through the mouth) then exhaling while passively letting the air “come out of the mouth”. Then one should perform 30 breaths (inspired and exhaled) in this way, and after these 30 breaths exhale all the air through the mouth and calmly wait with empty lungs for 15 seconds. Finally, a final group of participants was assigned to the “mindfulness meditation” group. The latter practiced no breath control, but had to passively observe their breath in order to focus their awareness on the present moment. “ They were told, when thoughts suddenly arose, to recognize this as normal, and to refocus their attention on their forehead region and to continue the practice until the 5 minutes were up. “, specify the researchers.
Depending on the technique used, breathing can be relaxing or energizing
Before and after the intervention, the participants completed questionnaires to assess the impact of the intervention on their sleep (duration, modification of the relationship between the number of hours of sleep and the number of hours in bed, etc.) and their anxiety, and also had to complete a debriefing questionnaire at the end of the study. To ensure that each person adhered to the required protocol, all volunteers received guidance via instructional videos (pre-recorded by Andrew D. Huberman, visual system specialist and associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford University) on the exercises of breathing to practice 3 to 5 days before the start of the study as well as daily SMS reminding them not to forget to practice them. The obtained results found that participants in all four groups showed improvements in mood and reductions in anxiety after one month, based on the responses given in the questionnaires. It turns out, however, that the finding was more pronounced in those who practiced the breathing exercises, and particularly the cyclical sighs.
” We hypothesized that monitoring your own breathing, as opposed to passive observation, makes people feel more positive about themselves. concludes Yilmaz Balban. How to explain this positive link? The researchers point out that cyclical sighing may prove to be the most effective technique for improving mood, as this technique involves longer exhalations, which are known to be more calming than inhales. Indeed, it is commonly felt that an increase in expiration time (3 minimum expiration times for 1 inspiration time) promotes a feeling of relaxation while an increase in inspiratory amplitude with a short expiration ( 3 beats on inspiration for 1 beat of expiration) will be more stimulating. Although further studies need to be conducted on a larger number of participants to confirm this finding, the scientific team is already planning a larger trial involving around 500 people which will compare cyclical sighing to hypnosis to improve mood and relieve anxiety.
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Here’s the Controlled Breathing Exercise That Will Noticeably Improve Your Mood, Researchers Reveal
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