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Yawning is the Fastest Way to Hack Mental Stress and Focus

Most people think of yawning as just a sign of either being as bored as a sentient statue, or needing a few of the last letter of the alphabet mashed beside each other.

But you’re not some regular dope. You are special. You’re reading this article.

Yawning is the most potent secret-sauce on the shelf for enhanced focus. Elite performers are all about it.  Olympic athletes yawn before they race. Musicians yawn before they go on stage. Snipers yawn before they pull the trigger. And the rest of the alleged lizard-people are likely using it too. 

It’s the ultimate stress and focus hack, and it takes only seconds.


10 Reasons to Yawn Frequently

  1. Stimulates alertness and concentration
  2. Optimizes brain activity and metabolism
  3. Improves cognitive function
  4. Increases memory recall
  5. Enhances consciousness and introspection
  6. Lowers stress
  7. Relaxes your upper body
  8. Fine-tunes your sense of time
  9. Increases empathy and social awareness
  10. Enhances pleasure and sensuality meow
Illustration of a person yawning with beams of light emitting from their eyes and mouth against a dark background.

Yawning increases cerebral blood flow, which enhances mental efficiency and cognitive awareness in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, yawning might be the fastest way to get relief.

It releases many neurochemicals that are crucial for motivation, memory recall, and voluntary decision-making. Truly, it’s hard to find another action that positively impacts so many brain functions. If you want to keep your brain optimized, it would make a lot of sense to make yawning a habit whenever you want to relax or improve your concentration.

The effects are similar to drinking a cup of coffee without the jitters or extra trips to the bathroom. It helps you shift between the highly focused demands of decision-making and restful daydreaming states that open the door to creative problem-solving. Yawning even regulates the time clocks in your brain, allowing you to sleep better at night. It’s rated five stars as a way to wake up and stay alert during a stressful workday.


If your spirit animal is a mammal, then your spirit animal probably yawns. It’s a primitive form of empathy found in mammals of corporeal form.

Frequent yawning is linked to increased emotional empathy, so it’s wise to yawn a few times before entering a stressful meeting or discussing a prickly subject.

But hey, don’t limit yourself. Go bonkers. Yawn as many times a day as you can handle.

Wake up? Yawn. Got some weird problem to solve? Yawn. Feeling stressed AF? Yawn, dammit.

Get weird about doing it all the time for any or no reason. 

It will make your brain very happy and your surrounding loved ones concerned about potential signs of narcolepsy.


Sometimes people come up with toddler-grade excuses for not yawning. “I don’t feel like it” – “I’m not tired” –  “I can’t.” 


But, no. Yawning is not hard. Especially if you know the trick.


Just fake yawn four or five times and a real one will pop right out. Give it a go if you don’t believe me.

Actually, just give it a go either way. Notice how each one feels makes you feel both more relaxed and focused. It also just feels really good.



Splurge on Yawning

Got two minutes?

Try this and experience how great it is.
Works even better if you're standing up.

  1. Take a slow deep breath and then yawn. If they are fake, no worries. Make an “ahh” sound during exhalation and you’ll trigger some top-shelf yawns on your fourth or fifth try.


  2. While you’re busy yawning, be sure to pay close attention to all the sensations in your mouth, throat, chest, and belly. When you pay attention, “boring” things get more interesting. Don’t be surprised if your eyes start watering like you just diced a few onions.


  3. If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or disoriented, stop everything and sit down, silly. Take a little break and then continue with your yawning spree. Try another ten or twelve times.


After all that yawning, pause and notice all the different body sensations you’re having. Do you feel more relaxed and alert? It probably means that you’re exhausted and overworked. If you’re feeling super stressed or anxious, strap in for even more yawns throughout the day – it’s your brain’s way of telling you it needs more blood circulation to improve neural performance.

Enjoy all the yawns with smug self-satisfaction. 

Your yawns are magic for your brain. And now, you’re some sort of powerful wizard of yawning a lot.

A scuba diver with fish swimming around him, showcasing the mental focus required for this simple yet exhilarating activity.

Dive Deeper

Library of Congress documentation of the value of yawning (along with early photographic evidence of its use in the classroom)

A thermal window for yawning in humans: yawning as a brain cooling mechanism.
Massen JJ, Dusch K, Eldakar OT, Gallup AC. Physiol Behav. 2014 May 10;130:145-8.

Yawning: unsuspected avenue for a better understanding of arousal and interoception.
Walusinski O. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(1):6-14.

Yawning, fatigue, and cortisol: expanding the Thompson Cortisol Hypothesis.
Thompson SB. Med Hypotheses. 2014 Oct;83(4):494-6.</p<

The thermoregulatory theory of yawning: what we know from over 5 years of research.
Gallup AC, Eldakar OT. Front Neurosci. 2013 Jan 2;6:188.

Yawning and its physiological significance.
Gupta S, Mittal S. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2013 Jan;3(1):11-5.

Yawning throughout life.
Giganti F, Salzarulo P. Front Neurol Neurosci. 2010;28:26-31.

How yawning switches the default-mode network to the attentional network by activating the cerebrospinal fluid flow.
Walusinski O. Clin Anat. 2014 Mar;27(2):201-9.

Social modulation of contagious yawning in wolves.
Romero T, Ito M, Saito A, Hasegawa T. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 27;9(8):e105963.

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