5 Simple Breathing Techniques to Relieve Stress

If you're stressed to the max, these breathing techniques to relieve stress will help you reset, relax, and find a new outlook on your day.
breathing techinques to relieve stress

If caregiving has you stressed to the max, then breathing techniques to relieve stress may help you find some relief.

After all, deep breathing – the type of breathing typically done for stress relief – has several benefits. Here are just a few of the good-for-you benefits of deep breathing:

  • Deep breathing can slow down your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to control digestion and urination.

  • Deep breathing helps to better control your mood and heart rate. 

  • You’ll get more oxygen to your organs, including your brain, with deep breathing.

  • Deep breathing can potentially help with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Deep breathing can be a wonderful technique to help you fall asleep and sleep better throughout the night.

Plus, breathing techniques for stress are amazingly easy to do… and they’re free! It’s hard to beat that.

You also can try the different breathing techniques for stress to see which ones you like the most. Or, you may find that some work better for you in certain situations.

Here are several breathing techniques for stress to get you relaxing and feeling better right away. At the end of each description, find a link to a video that demonstrates this breathing technique.

Belly Breathing

belly breathing techniques to relieve stress

Belly breathing is a basic breathing technique for stress relief.

  1. While sitting or laying comfortably, put one hand below your ribs and the other on your chest.

  2. Breathe in through the nose. 

  3. Breathe out through pursed lips (think of the position your lips make when you whistle). You should feel your belly pushing your hand out.

  4. Repeat three to five times.

A few pointers to perfect your belly breathing:

  • If you feel dizzy, don’t take as many breaths. 

  • If you are experiencing in-the-moment stress that is lasting a while, only use this deep breathing technique intermittently, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recommends.  

  • If you have asthma, check in with your doctor before using deep breathing techniques.

  • Some people may feel more comfortable counting slowly while inhaling and exhaling. You can do this if you’d like, but you don’t have to do so.

4-7-8 Breathing

478 breathing technique to reduce stress

Here’s another breathing approach that can help you relax better.

  1. Start by sitting or laying down.

  2. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.

  3. Inhale, and count to four while focusing on breathing in from your belly.

  4. Hold your breath. Count up to number seven silently.

  5. Exhale and count silently up to number eight. You should do your best to get all air out of your lungs by the time you reach the number eight.

  6. Repeat three to seven times.

Morning Breathing Techniques To Relieve Stress

morning breathing techniques to relieve stress

Here’s a type of breathing that’s ideal to try when you first wake up. It can help relieve nasal congestion and stiff muscles.

  1. Stand up and bend forward from the waist. Your knees can be slightly bent and your arms can be held loosely toward the floor.

  2. Inhale slowly. While inhaling, move back up slowly to standing position. Make sure that your head is the last part of your body that lifts back up. Continue to hold your breath for a couple of seconds while standing.

  3. Then, exhale slowly and bend forward yet again. Pay attention to how this breathing exercise makes you feel. Repeat as needed.

Lion’s Breath

lions breath breathing technique

You may feel funny doing Lion’s breath because of the way you move your face around, but you’ll also likely feel less tense afterward. Lion’s breath can help to get rid of face and chest tension. Lion’s breath is used in yoga. Have fun with this one.

  1. Sit comfortably. Place your palms on your knees.

  2. Inhale deeply and keep your eyes wide open. While doing this, also open your mouth wide. Stick out your tongue as far as you can.

  3. Exhale through your mouth and say “ha” for several seconds or for as long as the exhalation takes.

  4. Repeat two or three times. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

nostril breathing techniques

Alternate nostril breathing is a great stress reliever but is also a surprisingly good way to relieve light congestion. While it can help to relieve light congestion, don’t use it if you are sick or feel completely stuffed up.

  1. Sit comfortably and put your right hand on your nose. Place your first and middle fingers toward your palm. The other fingers can remain extended.

  2. Exhale, and then place your right thumb gently on your right nostril.

  3. Through your left nostril, inhale. 

  4. Close your left nostril with the ring and pinky fingers on your right hand.

  5. Remove your thumb from the right nostril. Exhale out of the right nostril.

  6. Inhale through the right nostril, then close it again.

  7. Remove your fingers from your left nostril and exhale.

  8. This completes one cycle of alternate nostril breathing. Repeat this cycle of breath five times.

Have another question? Ask an expert.

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