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Stanford neuroscientist reveals a simple way to stop stress

Published Aug 19th, 2022 4:47PM EDT
woman stressed at work
Image: DimaBerlin / Adobe

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Breathing is one of the most basic functions of the human body. It’s so basic that our bodies often do it without us even having to think about it. But experts say that breathing can also have extremely helpful effects, including the ability to stop stress before it sends you into a panicked state.

A simple breathing trick can stop stress in its tracks

man doing breathing trick to stop stressImage source: fizkes / Adobe

Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and a professor at Stanford, shared insight into how effective breathing can stop stress in a podcast featuring ex-Navy Seal officer Jocko Willink. The trick, Huberman says, is to complete a “psychological sigh.”

This breathing technique is simple, and it plays off a very simple part of your body’s anatomy. Essentially, when you breathe in, your diaphragm and muscles cause your chest to expand. When that happens, your heart expands, too. when you breathe out, everything compresses. Using your breathing to control a sequence of expanding and compressing can help you stop stress easily.

When your blood slows like that, your neurons pay attention. Charlotte Grysolle, a writer over on Medium, breaks down some of the key points that Huberman and Willink discuss in a post. Essentially, when your inhales are longer than your exhales, you’re causing your heart to speed up. When you exhale longer, though, it does the opposite.

human heart diagram
Breathing in certain ways determines how quickly your heart pumps blood to your body. Image source: nerthuz / Adobe

You can use this trick to stop stress by taking two quick inhales through your nose, then exhaling a long breath through your mouth. This “phycological sigh” basically forces your heart to slow. It helps relieve the panic building from stress, which can be very helpful when things are starting to spiral out of control.

If you’re trying to stop stress, completing the breathing process one to three times can help reduce your panic levels. There are other breathing techniques out there that work similarly, too. That’s because the main idea behind these tricks is to exhale longer than you inhale, forcing your heart and chest to compress and slow down how quickly blood is flowing.

You can also use this format to slow down your heart when trying to get to sleep quickly. One popular TikTok sleep hack relies on similar short inhales and long exhales to calm down and fall asleep quickly.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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