Fuelling your Mind with a Stretch and a Yawn by Sun at FirstLight Trust

Several recent brain scan studies have shown that stretching and yawning fuels the mind by triggering neural activity that releases unique neuro chemicals like dopamine, a motivational ‘let’s do it’ hormone (Hamid et al., 2015) and opiates such as oxytocin, a ‘social’ and ‘anti-stress’ hormone (Neumann, 2008). Research suggests that if you are spending long hours working at your desk, or hours in conferences and meetings, you can fuel and energize your brain by deliberately stretching and yawning and this re-balances the brain chemicals putting you into an a higher performance state for tasks that require mental acuity, focus, problem-solving, and decision-making, as well as increasing your physical activity and coordination.

So when you’re confronting a difficult problem at work, a test, an important presentation, or anytime you feel ‘switched off’ or even anger, anxiety, or stress we suggest you stretch by raising your arms in front of you or above your head, twist your body left and right and open that mouth wide for a big old yawn…..and what is more….you might get everyone around you doing it too because yawning is contagious; ‘yawning is an ancestral vestige survived through evolution that occurs when attention is low and arousal needs to be increased’, (Guggisberg, Mathis, Herrmann, & Hess, 2007) (Romero, Ito, Saito, & Hasegawa, 2014). So….. go on…..fuel your mind with a yawn and stretch and see the difference it makes to how your mind feels and how you can affect everyone else mind too!


– Guggisberg, A. G., Mathis, J., Herrmann, U. S., & Hess, C. W. (2007). The functional relationship between yawning and vigilance. Behavioural Brain Research, 179(1), 159–166. http://doi.org/10.1016/J.BBR.2007.01.027
– Hamid, A. A., Pettibone, J. R., Mabrouk, O. S., Hetrick, V. L., Schmidt, R., Vander Weele, C.
M., … Berke, J. D. (2015). Mesolimbic dopamine signals the value of work. Nature Neuroscience, 19, 117. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.4173
– Neumann, I. D. (2008). Brain Oxytocin: A Key Regulator of Emotional and Social Behaviours in Both Females and Males. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20(6), 858–865. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01726.x
– Romero, T., Ito, M., Saito, A., & Hasegawa, T. (2014). Social modulation of contagious yawning in wolves. PloS One, 9(8), e105963. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105963