I LOVE a good sigh.
Especially after good news or I’ve just finished something stressful. It can feel so good, hhhaaa.
Did you know we naturally sigh about 12 times an hour? You’re probably not aware of it because it’s an automatic mechanism of respiration. And because they are usually pretty quiet.
Physiologically they are used to increase lung volume and to exercise alveoli in the lungs. The alveoli are the small “air sacks” in the lungs where oxygen is exchanged with the blood capillaries. So sighing is pretty important for the physiology of breathing.
Sighing also plays an important role in psychological health. They are unconscious outward expression of emotions and automatic reactions to stressors. For example, a big sigh before speaking to a group of people.
It is also a response to changes of the autonomic nervous system, when a body goes from sympathetic to parasympathetic, or vice versa. A sigh can be your body’s way of revving up for a stressful event or your body’s way to down regulate your body’s stress response. It can engage your parasympathetic nervous system.
So why not turn this non-conscious reaction into a purposeful little treat for yourself?
Click Read More below to learn how to start your own sigh practice.
When you sigh on purpose, you can balance your nervous system and calm yourself down. It feels pretty good.
The relationship between breath and our emotions is powerful. And it is automatic. By using conscious control of breathing you can get control of emotional states and stress responses.
And what I love so much about the therapeutic use of breath is that the effects are felt quickly.
Using a therapeutic sigh breath is a fast way to destress and get rid of some pent-up emotions. This is also an easy practice because it uses a natural way to breath. You don’t have to count in or out breaths, you don’t have to hold your breath. Just take in a deep breath, preferably one that inflates your belly, and release it with an audible sigh.
Here’s a little more instruction on the therapeutic sigh breath.
It would be great if the big breath in is a belly breath that engages the respiratory diaphragm, meaning when you breath in your belly also “inflates.” But just a big breath in, whatever way is comfortable, is good too.
Then let it go with a sigh. Go ahead and make a sound, either a soft breath sound out, or really go for it with a nice “hhhhaaa” sound.
Try to do 8 – 12 sighs. If 8 is too much and you start feeling light headed, go ahead and stop at that point. Just do however many is comfortable for you. You can always do it again later on.
I like to do this practice in the car or as a way to decompress after a stressful event. You can do it while watching TV to help wind-down. There’s lots of good times and places to do it. Even if you are stuck in a city of cubicles and surrounded by people, you just may want to do a silent “hhhaaa.”
Go ahead and give it a try to see how it feels. Or better yet, try it out for a few days in a row to see how the cumulative effect is on your overall mood.
What is self-care?