Breathe your way to a Peaceful Life: Breathing Exercises for Stress

Breathe your way to a Peaceful Life #breathe #stressreduction

Breathing Exercises for Stress

Breathing is my favorite stress reliever. It’s quick, easy, and you can do it anywhere. In my opinion, there’s really no wrong way to utilize breathing to reduce stress. In its simplest form you can do it in the grocery store line or between test questions.

You don’t actually need any particular technique for breathing exercises for stress. You can simply slow down, breath deeply and fully. The additional oxygen can help lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Simple breathing:  I like to inhale through my nose for a count of 4 and then exhale through my mouth for a count of 4. Repeat for 3-5 minutes.

Breathe like a baby: This can take some concentration at first. Place your hand over your diaphragm (abdomen) and align your breathing with it. As you inhale, watch your diaphragm rise. As you exhale, watch your diaphragm fall.

Tense and Release: As you breath deeply, progressively tense and release each of your muscles. Start with your toes, then your feet, calves, etc. Gradually move up the body tensing and releasing. This adds a physical element that is great for reducing stress. I like to do this lying down, but it can also be done sitting.


If you’re in a situation where you utilize these ideas, give them a try.

  • Try closing your eyes. This helps you focus and eliminate distractions.
  • Count your breaths. This will help you slow down and refocus away from your stressors.
  • Breath in just until it becomes uncomfortable. Repeat as you breath out.
  • Visualize a safe, calm, pleasant place. Focus on how it looks, smells, feels.
  • Turn on some soothing background music
  • Sit  or stand up as tall as possible. Pull the crown of your head toward the ceiling/sky.
  • Experiment with being inside or outside and discover if one is generally more calming.

What breathing exercises for stress do you use? We’d love to hear your ideas.

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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