The Built-In Stress Buster You Didn’t Know You Had

Nature prewired you with the ability to beat your stress.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash

I heard banging on the door, which was weird because no one I know pounds on my door like that.

Opening the door, I see a police officer standing at one edge with his hand on his gun.

I’m half asleep, and he asks, “Can we come in?”

“Umm, sure,” I answer bleary-eyed.

Three more cops who had been hiding out of my view rush in behind the leader.

“Sir, is anyone else in the house?”

“Yeah, my wife is back in the bedroom. I’ll go get her.”

“NO! Sir, please stay here.”

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Startled to see a kitchen full of cops, my wife came to the table and sat next to me while one of the officers removed all of the knives from the counter and stuffed them into a drawer.

Fully awake now and thoroughly pissed, I sighed and asked what was going on.

It turns out that someone had called 911 saying that they heard a woman scream and hit the floor in our apartment.

That someone either had the wrong address or a sick sense of humor because that wasn’t the way I had expected my Saturday morning to go.

What does this have to do with your built-in stress buster?

I used it in the story.

Did you miss it?

I sighed before asking what was going on, and just for context here, this entire altercation happened in about 30 seconds.

What does a sigh have to do with stopping stress?

It’s a nervous system reset.

When you’re flooded with stress, sensation, and emotion, a sigh, or as they are scientifically known, a physiological sigh interrupts the cycle. It allows you to get out of the overwhelming gush of physical and mental information that comes with high-stress situations. And even though a sigh can’t take your stress away, it can create enough space for a person to make the right decision.

Had I not kept my cool with four cops spilling through my door on that Saturday morning, things could’ve ended very differently. Had I not been able to have a level headed conversation with them, who knows how things may have escalated.

The sigh is built into most animals as a release valve for stress. It’s there to enable us to check ourselves and make sure that the story happening between our ears doesn’t lead to tragedy in the real world.

But how does it work?

When you or I or anyone else sighs, you inhale, and then instead of exhaling, you inhale again and completely fill your lungs. This does two things; first, it causes you to offload high amounts of carbon dioxide, which is the stress messenger of the body. Second, the stretch of the tissue surrounding your ribcage sends information back to your nervous system that your ability to breathe isn’t compromised. Both of those things are extremely soothing to a nervous system that feels threatened.

The video below walks you through the how and why.

If you made it this far, I know what you’re probably thinking.

“Did I just read an article and watch a video about sighing? What did I get sucked into?”

It seems ridiculous on the surface because it’s so elementary. Mother nature always prefers simplicity. She wants us to survive. It would make no sense to prewire most land-dwelling animals on the planet with a stress interruption tool that takes hours of practice to perfect and use.

This tool is so important because it’s so simple; simplicity is its greatest strength.

Simplicity means we can apply it in the moment.

Simplicity means the chances of failure are meager.

Simplicity means we stay in control.

If you want to learn more about how to use the incredibly simple yet powerful tools built into your body, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter below.

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