If you’ve ever let out a big old sigh during a frustrating or exasperating situation, there’s now science behind why you might have felt even slightly better.
New research out of Stanford shows that just five minutes a day of breathing that way can be an effective stress reliever, and might work even better than meditation.
“Cyclic sighing is a pretty rapid way to calm yourself,” study co-author Dr. David Spiegel says, per CNN. “Many people can do it about three times in a row and see immediate relief from anxious feelings and stress.” The scientists hope their findings can lead to further nonpharmacological treatment options for people with anxiety.
That’s not to say that sighing is the only effective remedy when the walls feel like they’re closing in.
Stress management expert Dr. Cynthia Ackrill notes that the study is a small one, and that we shouldn’t discount meditation or the other types of breathing that could still help.
“We know that bringing your attention to any form of breath work starts the process of awareness that feeds mindfulness and its benefits,” she says. “As long as we are all experimenting with mind-body connections with open minds and finding something that calms us, yay!”