Doctor Reveals Quick, Simple Trick for Relieving Stress and Anxiety

A doctor has revealed a quick and simple trick that can help temporarily relieve stress and anxiety.

Dr. Karan Raj—who is based in the U.K.—demonstrated the technique in a video posted to his popular TikTok channel, which has nearly five million followers.

According to recent polls conducted for the American Psychological Association, stress levels in the U.S. have risen to alarming levels, with respondents citing factors such as money issues, the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation and global uncertainty—including Russia's invasion of Ukraine—as having an impact on their wellbeing.

Meanwhile, many individuals across the country are struggling with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, although worries about the virus itself seem to have leveled off, according to the report.

Stress is a natural response of the human body to changes in our environment, which in some cases can be beneficial—such as keeping us alert in order to avoid immediate danger.

But while our bodies can handle stress in small doses, if that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have a serious impact on health.

In the TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 384,000 times at the time of writing, Dr. Raj shared a simple breathing technique that he said might be the "fastest way" to reduce stress and anxiety, according to science.

While this technique, known as the "physiological sigh," obviously will not address the sources of stress in an individual's life, it may help to bring some temporary relief.

In the video, Dr. Raj said you can practice the physiological sigh whenever you are stressed to bring the level of autonomous nervous system arousal back to baseline.

The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion and sexual arousal.

"Actually, your body does this several times a day without you even realizing to regulate high CO2 levels and stress," Dr. Raj said in the video.

To perform the technique, simply inhale through the nose and just when you feel like you can't inhale any more—do a second, short, sharp inhale, followed by a long, slow exhale through the mouth.

Dr. Raj said the technique helps to relieve stress due to the impact stress has on the alveoli—the millions of tiny air sacs found in the lungs that help to move oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules into and out of the bloodstream.

"When we're stressed these sacs collapse and deflate," Dr. Raj said in the video. "This breathing technique causes these sacs to re-inflate and allows for more efficient offloading of carbon dioxide."

"This technique also emphasizes the exhale," he said. "When we exhale, the diaphragm moves up and gently squeezes the heart. This causes the brain to signal to the body to reduce the heart rate."

A stressed individual
Stock image showing a stressed individual. A doctor has revealed a quick and simple trick that can help to temporarily relieve stress and anxiety. iStock