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Breathing Exercises


Techniques Managing Stress > Breathing Exercises

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There are many breathing exercises that can combat stress and just make you feel better. Here are just a few.

It is important in all these exercises to sit or stand up straight, not with a curled spine that restricts the ability of your lungs to be filled with air.

One breath

The simplest way of using breathing to combat stress is, when you are are feeling a particular moment of stress, to take a deep breath in and let it out slowly, 'breathing out the stress' at the same time.

Diaphragm breathing

Breath in, starting by expanding your upper chest muscles, then moving down to to your lower chest muscles and then finally your abdomen, so you fill you lungs fully with air.

Then repeat the exercise in reverse, squeezing out the used air. Do this repeatedly and slowly, feeling the power of the air as you breath in and expelling stress as you breath out.

Full body breathing

Breath as in diaphragm breathing but now feeling the energy from breath moving out through your limbs until your head, fingers and toes tingle with power. Breathing out, let the breath smooth and carry away the tension in your muscles and mind.

Do this steadily, quietly and repeated.

Circular breathing

In any of the above exrecises, breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, feeling the energy circulating around your body in between.

Loud breathing

In any breathing exercise, make a noise as you breathe. Breathing in may be quiet, but make a long, resonant sound as you breath out, for example with 'mmmmm' or aahhhh'.


Breathing is often partial as we do not fully fill our lungs with air. When people are tense or talking a lot, they often breath only with their shoulders and upper chest, filling only the top of their lungs. Air gives us energy and insufficient air reduces attention and ability to think clearly, so it is important to breath well.

Normally when we breathe it is driven by our autonomic nervous system, which does not need any conscious attention. Managing your breathing requires attention, and in doing so attention is taken away from stressful thoughts. Breathing slowly also slows down the body and slows down damaging thoughts.

Stressed people sometimes hyperventilate, breathing too much and too fast, making them light-headed. The critical thing to do here is to slow down the breathing rate.

See also


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