With the abundance of stress management information that is available, you probably don’t hear the advice to sigh very often. But it’s very good advice.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we’ve stopped breathing when we’re anxious. Think about the last time you watched a drama or a thriller and there was a suspenseful moment in the show.
Once that scene was over, you would relax and exhibit a sigh of relief. But you didn’t realize that you were holding your breath before that. We unconsciously hold our breath, or start to breathe shallowly, when we are anxious.
What happens to our bodies when we are shocked or surprised? We experience a gasp or a sharp intake of air. That gasp or sharp intake of air is associated with the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (also known as your fight or flight system).
What happens to our bodies when we experience relief? We sigh. Sighing is consistent with the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the rest and digest system).
Try it right now. Breathe in. And now sigh as you exhale.
It almost feels like your subconscious mind relaxes. It’s like you let go of some stress in the back of your mind. Whether you notice it or not, there is always some amount of underlying stress in our lives. Sighing is a great way to let some of that go.
Try it again. Breathe in. And now sigh as you exhale.
Feel that sense of relief and relaxation in your body as your fight or flight system calms down.
Try another sigh. Breathe in. And sigh as you exhale.
Nature did not put a separation between our minds and our bodies. If something affects one, it's going to affect the other. If you can calm your mind, you can calm your body. And if you can calm your body, you can calm your mind. They both work together.
You just practiced this three times. How long did it take?
Think about your day and when you can stop to practice a couple of sighs.
It feels so good to feel your body letting go of physiological stress and to feel your mind letting go of whatever stress is in the back of your mind.