5 minutes of daily breathing is enough to reduce stress + improve mood, according to a new study
It’s no secret that meditation can do wonders for your brain power and mental health. But try as you might, even a quick meditation routine can be difficult to complete. If you struggle to commit to a daily practice but still want to reap the benefits of meditation, you may be in luck.
A recently published study from Stanford University compared various breathing methods to standard meditation. He found that breathing—specifically something called circular sighing—was the most effective at improving mood, managing breathing rhythm, and reducing stress.
For this research, more than 100 participants practiced one of four mindfulness methods for five minutes each day for a month. The methods tested were:
Circular Sighing (the winner): Focuses on extended periods of exhalation with two nasal inhalations into full lungs followed by a full exhalation through the mouth
Box breathing: Includes four equally timed breathing segments: inhale, hold, exhale and hold
Cyclic hyperventilation: Includes deep nasal inhalations and full-mouth exhalations (25 cycles) followed by 25-30 seconds of breath holding with empty lungs
Standard meditation: It had no structured breathing and instead focused on mindful meditation strategies.
All four groups showed positive results, including reduced respiratory rate and improved mood. However, the breathing work groups showed greater improvements than the meditation group overall, with circular sighing performing best.
The fact that just five minutes of breathing can replicate—and even surpass—some of the well-studied effects of meditation is a promising finding for anyone short on time or patience.
Feel better in just 5 minutes.
Healthy habits can be hard to form, but something as accessible as a short breathing practice is a great place to start for some impressive benefits. If you want to start a mindfulness practice in the new year, this study gives you full permission to block out just five minutes a day.
After all, we can all find five minutes to breathe—perhaps while making our morning coffee, while waiting for the bus or pumping gas, or while doing our evening skin care routine.
If you’re looking to improve your daily mood this year, incorporating endorphin-boosting exercise into your routine can help, too. Taking a stress management supplement can also bring more calm into your life.