Cool down your anxious brain

Is the coronavirus situation making you anxious? Do you feel like your brain is in constant overload from the bad news about Covid-19 coming from the outside world? In fact, anxiety and stress can make the temperature of your brain go up. Did you know that there’s a simple mechanism that can make it quite rapidly go down? It’s something that you do naturally and that in fact all mammals do instinctively. The secret to cool down your brain is yawning.

Yawning is a mechanism that makes the temperature of your brain go down. There are now more than 60 studies showing how essential yawning is to maintain a healthy brain, and not a single one to dispute this evidence-based discovery. Yawning will help you reduce your anxiety, gain a greater clarity and calm down the overload. This in turn will allow you to make better decisions and look at what’s happening with a little more distance.

To induce yawning, start with focusing you your breath. But breath in a different way from your normal breathing. Breath in counting 5, briefly pause and slowly breath out counting 11. Try to breathe out as if you were blowing your birthday cake candles. I’m not asking how old you are, but I’m guessing that you’re more than 11, so it takes a little bit to blow them all! This process should make you start yawning. If the yawning is not coming, fake it until you make it. You could even try to find a “yawning animals” video online. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll start yawning after watching some cute mammals yawn.

After doing 5-10 yawns, try to yawn “mindfully”, meaning being fully present with the yawn in the here and now. Observe where the yawn starts, how it develops, when it ends… Notice the difference between the mindful yawn and the previous yawns. Notice the subtle shifts in your mental state and your mood. Repeat the mindful yawns until you reach a relaxed state of mindful awareness. Try to maintain this state as much as possible and don’t get “heated up”, literally, about the news. It’s not doing your brain any good. But if it happens, you now know what to do to cool your brain down to protect it.

The facemask debate is ongoing, but rest assured there’s no need to get anxious about wearing a facemask. Recent research has shown that it won’t heat up your brain. And it has the added benefit that you can yawn in public anytime as your face is already covered 😊


Yawning and stretching predict brain temperature changes in rats: support for the thermoregulatory hypothesis. Shoup-Knox ML, Gallup AC, Gallup GG, McNay EC. Front Evol Neurosci. 2010 Sep 24;2:108.

Effect of wearing an N95 filtering facepiece respirator on superomedial orbital infrared indirect brain temperature measurements. DiLeo T, Roberge RJ, Kim JH.J Clin Monit Comput. 2017 Feb;31(1):67-73.

Making facemasks for friends in London

Published by Jitka Horcickova

You know how some people get bullied in the workplace? And sometimes flashbacks from the past are haunting them even years after they left that situation? Well, what I do is to help them remove the emotional charge from their traumatic experiences and find their path to freedom.

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