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Making This One Hand Gesture Instantly Relaxes Your Body, Says Expert

A Japanese "vocal technique researcher" says this is instant stress relief. But does it actually work?

The Internet is filled with wonderfully weird ways that will supposedly help you chill out when you're totally stressed out. They include everything from going grocery shopping to standing on one leg to soaking in a bathtub that's entirely filled with beer. But if any of those don't sound appealing to you, consider this new one, courtesy of one Japanese Twitter user.

According to a @shimadakengo911—who, according to Japan Today, 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"—all you need to do to instantly reduce your stress levels in real time is make a single hand gesture.

This is it:

Yes, it looks like you're doing the old finger pistol. But according to the Twitter user, it's an actual relaxation technique that he learned from "vocal technique researcher" Shigemitsu Hayashi, whose expertise includes using your hands in order to relax. (Here's Hayashi's YouTube page.) And, according to Japan Times, making this hand gesture does more than make you look like Shooter McGavin.

"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," the site reports. "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."

According to Hayashi, when you bend your ring finger and your pinkie finger, you're tweaking your physiology in such small but profound way that it actually affects the parts of your body associated with your breath.

"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," writes Japan Times. "Scientific studies have also proven that traditional ninja hand movements are able to sharpen the mind and reduce stress."

In the case of the latter, they're 100% correct. Studies have shown that practicing "Kuri Kuri"—referred to above as "ninja hand movements"—is shown to reduce beta brain waves that are associated with stress and negative thoughts and generally helps you enter a much calmer mental state.

That being said, the Japan Times notes that "it's still a bit of a mystery as to why [the finger pistol gesture] works."

Why not give it a go now? Do you feel instantly more relaxed? If not, you can always consider putting your thumb in your mouth and blowing on it, installing an aquarium in your house, or staring a some gorgeous fractals. If those don't work, you could always try these Diet Hacks That Will Reduce Your Stress, Says a Doctor.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William
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