Best protocols for reducing anxiety

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Here are some protocols discussed by on the for reducing anxiety:

  1. Breathing Techniques:

    • Practice the physiological sigh for five minutes daily. This involves two inhales through the nose followed by a full exhale through the mouth. This technique has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall autonomic function, including sleep and heart rate variability 1 2.
    • Use respiration protocols that either calm or stimulate the autonomic nervous system to recalibrate stress responses. This includes physiological sighs for calming effects and specific breathing exercises to increase arousal and manage stress effectively 3.

      Breathing for Mood

      Discover a simple, five-minute breathing protocol that can improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance sleep. Learn how this cyclic physiological sigh technique positively impacts various metrics of physical and mental health, as discussed by Andrew Huberman.

      Huberman Lab

      Mental Health Toolkit: Tools to Bolster Your Mood & Mental Health
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  2. Journaling:

    • Engage in a writing protocol where you write about stressful or traumatic experiences for 15-30 minutes, four times. This has been shown to significantly improve mental and physical health, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other stress-related conditions. It's crucial to select the right time for this exercise, preferably not before bedtime, and to start with moderately stressful events if needed 4 5.
  3. Stress Recalibration:

    • There is evidence that short, daily bouts of intense stress (about five minutes) can reverse the effects of chronic stress. This method, although studied in animals, shows promise for reducing anxiety and stress in humans by indicating a more adaptive stress response 3.
  4. Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR):

    • NSDR protocols, such as Yoga Nidra and certain forms of guided hypnosis, help calm the nervous system and manage anxiety. They are effective for both sleep enhancement and stress relief, teaching the nervous system to turn off thoughts and achieve deep relaxation. These can be particularly useful if anxiety affects your sleep 6.

By incorporating these protocols into your routine, you can potentially reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Can you explain more about physiological sigh?

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The physiological sigh is a powerful breathing technique that can quickly reduce stress and induce calm. This method involves taking a deep inhale through the nose, followed by a second short inhale before a long, complete exhale through the mouth. Here's a more detailed explanation of its benefits and how it works:

  1. Mechanism:

    • The first deep inhale through the nose fills the lungs, and the second short inhale maximally inflates the alveoli in the lungs. This action helps reopen small air sacs in the lungs, which can partially collapse due to stress or shallow breathing.
    • The long exhale through the mouth allows the body to expel a significant amount of carbon dioxide, which helps reduce feelings of stress and induce a calming effect on the body 1.
  2. Benefits:

    • Immediate Stress Reduction: One physiological sigh can rapidly reduce stress by balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous systems. This process brings about an immediate sense of calm, making it useful in high-stress situations like public speaking or during anxiety-inducing events 1 2.
    • Enhanced Overall Mood: Regular practice of cyclic sighing (repeating the physiological sigh for five minutes daily) has been shown to improve mood, lower resting heart rate, and improve sleep quality over a 24-hour cycle 1.
    • General Calm: The technique is effective for calming down in real-time and can be utilized anytime, anywhere, except underwater of course, making it a versatile tool for managing stress throughout daily life 3.

      Breathing for Stress Reduction

      Andrew Huberman discusses the benefits of cyclic sighing and physiological sighing for stress reduction. Cyclic sighing performed for five minutes a day had the most robust and pervasive effect in reducing stress, improving mood, and improving sleep. One physiological sigh is a very efficient way to immediately bring about calm and reduce overall levels of stress.

      Huberman Lab

      How to Breathe Correctly for Optimal Health, Mood, Learning & Performance | Huberman Lab Podcast
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  3. Practice:

    • Single Use: Take one deep inhale followed immediately by a short second inhale, and then exhale fully and slowly. This can be done anytime you feel stressed or need to calm down quickly.
    • Cyclic Sighing: To gain long-term benefits, practice cyclic sighing for five minutes a day. This involves repeating the deep inhale, short second inhale, and long exhale continuously for the full duration 1.

Using the physiological sigh can help you manage stress and improve your overall mental and physical health effectively.

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