Did you know that one of the best ways to relieve stress is completely free and everyone can do it?

That’s right – conscious breathing is one of the most effective ways in activating the body’s natural relaxation response. Deep, mindful breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques can help you feel connected to your body and quiet your mind.

The good news is that breathing exercises are easy to learn and can be done whenever you want, and you don’t need any special tools or equipment to do them. Also, it’s worth pointing out that if you have been a shallow breather, this might initially feel strange and even somewhat difficult. But just like anything, controlled breathing does take a bit of practice so be patient with yourself.

Here are a few exercises to try out, you can them out and see which work best for you.

  • 4-7-8 breathing

This exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax and can be done either sitting or lying down. Taking a deep breath is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response. While exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in control of the rest and digest response. If you have ever experienced a panic attack you might be aware that taking too many deep breaths too quickly can cause you to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain. Longer exhales help to signal to the brain that it’s time to relax.

How to do it: Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly. Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
Hold your breath to a count of 7.

Breathe out completely as you silently count to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.

The idea of this exercise is to lengthen the exhale. Repeat this four times or until you feel calm.

Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

  • Abdominal breathing technique

The abdominal breathing technique can be particularly helpful before experiencing a stressful event like preparing for a job interview or giving a big presentation.

How to do it: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing diaphragm (not your chest) to inflate with enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs. Slowly exhale.

Taking 6–10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day using this breathing technique can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. In effect, this will also reduce anxiety and stress.

Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

  • Breath focus

This technique can be done sitting or lying down. If you are feeling particularly stressed at work, or at school, you can even do this quietly in a room full of people.

How to do it:
Start to inhale and exhale normally. Take a few moments to mentally scan your body for any tension. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose.

Notice your belly and upper body expanding.

Exhale slowly.

Do this for a few minutes, paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly.

To maintain focus on your breath, it can be helpful to choose a word to focus on and repeat in your mind during your exhale. Words like “calm” can be effective.
When you get distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath and your words.

Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

Find the help you need. Simply enter your location.

Start your search now