In a study from Stanford University, scientists found evidence that people who engage in cyclic sighing breathing exercises see a greater reduction in stress than those engaging in mindfulness meditation.
Previous research has shown that while stress can be a positive influence at times, more often it is considered adverse because it can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure.
Thus, stress techniques have been developed to help people reduce stress without resorting to drugs.
One such technique is mindfulness meditation, during which a person attempts to relax by putting themselves in the moment in a nonjudgmental way for a period of time.
Other techniques involve engaging in breathing exercises.
In the current study, the researchers compared three types of breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation to assess their effectiveness.
The three types of breathing exercises tested included cyclic sighing, in which more time and thought is spent on exhaling than on inhaling or holding the breath;
box breathing, in which breathing and holding are done for the same amount of time; and cyclic hyperventilation, in which inhalations last longer than exhalations.
The team tested 114 volunteers engaged in one of the stress reducers for five minutes each day for a month at the time of their choosing. Each volunteer kept a stress journal to assess the effectiveness of their stress reduction activities.
The team found that for the most part, the volunteers reported that they found the exercise a positive experience—90% reported positive feelings.
They also found that those volunteers using breathing exercises showed more stress reduction than those doing mindfulness meditation.
And they also found that those who did cyclic sighing reported the greatest reductions in stress compared to the other breathing techniques.
For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about vegetarianism linked to higher risk of depression, and results showing how mindfulness and dance can stimulate a part of the brain that can improve mental health.
The study was conducted by Melis Yilmaz Balban et al and published in Cell Reports Medicine.
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