With so much going on in the world right now, more and more people are becoming more and more stressed. And while relaxation techniques and tips for creating calm abound online, not all these ideas work for everyone, which is why Japanese Twitter user Shima (@shimadakengo911) attracted attention recently when he shared a clever hack that turned out to be effective with a lot of people online.
Shima is a graduate of Japan’s esteemed Tokyo University, and has experience in scientific research with an interest in stress care, interpersonal psychology and workplace techniques. Despite having a wealth of knowledge in tips and techniques for handling stress, Shima recently came across an unusual technique that even he was surprised with. Not only is it easy for anyone to do, it’s said to mysteriously change the way you breathe so you can tap into your belly breath and calm your nerves in seconds.
▼ All you have to do is copy this hand shape below.
That’s right — this simple hand shape, with your index and middle finger pointing outwards, and your thumb up, as if mimicking a gun, is all you need to de-stress. According to Shima, this hand gesture arbitrarily shifts your breathing over to abdominal breathing, which allows you to take deeper breaths, thus helping to create a state of calm.
Try it now and see if it works for you.
Were you able to feel your breath change? Abdominal breathing is when your belly expands as you inhale, and contracts on the exhale. It’s a technique used by singers and public speakers to increase the volume of their voice and the length of their breath, and it’s also used when meditating to help calm the nervous system.
Shima took a survey online and found that the hand gesture was effective with over 59 percent of respondents.
Shima says he learned about the technique from vocal technique researcher Shigemitsu Hayashi (@bochibochigonta), who created a video on YouTube demonstrating the connection between our hands and our breath.
▼ Hayashi shows that clenching the fists makes us breathe from the chest, but releasing our thumb, index and middle fingers automatically makes us breathe from the belly.
Hayashi’s video above goes on to show that the chest breath results in a higher-pitched voice while the belly breath produces a lower tone. And while the gun-like hand shape, which is effective even with one hand, is useful when you’re nervous or about to speak in front of a group of people, it’s bound to elicit strange looks from people around you, so he says it’s fine to just slightly release your thumb, index and middle fingers, as demonstrated in the thumbnail above.
▼ Bending the little finger and ring finger is also said to be a vital part of the gesture’s effectiveness.
So why does it work? Hayashi says that according to one of his doctor friends, the nerves in these fingers are likely to be connected to nerves elsewhere in the body. If you think about it, this theory appears to make sense — reflexology, for instance, involves applying pressure on particular pressure points on the hands and feet, which are said to correspond to different organs and parts of the body, and physiotherapists will often tell you that a problem in one area can be caused by stress or tension on the opposite side of your body.
Scientific studies have also proven that traditional ninja hand movements are able to sharpen the mind and reduce stress.
It’s still a bit of a mystery as to why it works, but with so many people full of praise for Hayashi’s technique, it’s certainly bringing a lot of help and hope to individuals looking to boost their confidence and their sense of calm. So next time you’re feeling anxious or nervous, try changing the shape of your hand — chances are it will change your breathing, your voice, and your state of mind.
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