The physiological sigh!

An instant way to alleviate your stress…

The physiological sigh!


Living in a world filled with abundance and endless choices, it would be easy to see how choosing the right breathing technique for us may even be stressful!

The physiological sigh has been around since the 1930’s. However, more recently, Dr Andrew Huberman, a professor from Stanford University has explained the science behind this simple technique is something you can do anywhere and has the power to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety instantly.

We sigh naturally without conscious awareness about every five minutes. We also do this when we cry, just before we drift off to sleep and during sleep.

Sighing is needed for our lungs to function properly. The half a billion tiny air sacks in our lungs (Alveoli) are where oxygen enters, and carbon dioxide (CO2) leaves our bloodstream.

During the day, some of your Alveoli collapse spontaneously, when this happens, the gas exchange in your lungs becomes inefficient. This results in the carbon dioxide levels in your blood increasing and the oxygen levels decreasing. Too much carbon dioxide can leave us feeling agitated.

The physiological sigh can hack the stress response and bring immediate relief, here’s how;

  1. Take a breath in through your nose.
  2. At the end of this inhale, take another short breath on top of the first breath so your lungs feel completely filled up.
  3. Slowly exhale through the mouth.
  4. Repeat 1-3 times.

By inhaling twice, the alveoli re-inflate with air and increase the surface level of the lungs which makes them more effective at removing CO2 from our body which makes us feel more relaxed.

Also the long exhale is so important in any breathing technique as the receptors in our heart sense an increase of pressure which sends signals to the brain to slow the heart rate down. This also creates a feeling of calm.

Practising this simple body-based technique a few times during the day has the power to significantly reduce stress.  Also, just for a few seconds, we can get out of our heads and be in our body which is another great reason to give it a go!

Best wishes,


© Hayley Ball

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