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4 breathing exercises to combat stress

4 Breathing Exercises

Ever feel stressed, anxious or a little bit frazzled? We all feel like this at times. Every so often juggling a career, social life, love life, family and the growing pressure to live a healthy lifestyle can get a bit overwhelming. However, there are a few things we can do to find calm and help to combat those anxious feelings so we’ve been doing a little research.

Breathing exercises are one of the most recommended quick and simple stress relief strategies; you can do them anywhere, at any time and they require little practice. Typical stress responses, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure can all be alleviated by taking a few deep breaths and letting a little calm in. So, next time you’re feeling stressed, tired or nervous, take a pass on the coffee and find your inner Zen with these four professionally recommended breathing techniques.


Dubbed the 4-7-8 breathing technique, the method is described as a 'natural tranquiliser for the nervous system' and is one of the best to help you fall asleep. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Breathe in through your nose quietly to a count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  3. Exhale through your mouth while counting to eight.
  4. This is one "breath cycle", and you should repeat it 3 times, completing 4 cycles in total.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

If you’re a frequent yoga goer you’ll already be familiar with this one. This is perfect for when you’re stressed at work and need to focus as it requires some concentration.

  1. Close your right nostril with your thumb, and inhale slowly through the left nostril, close it with your finger. Pause. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
  2. Inhale slowly through the right nostril then close it with the thumb.
  3. Exhale through the left nostril. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left. Pause before moving to the right.
  4. Repeat 4-7 times.

Pursed lip breathing

This technique releases trapped air in the lungs and decreases amount of breathes you are taking, slowing your breathing and causing relaxation. This also relieves shortness of breath.

  1. Relax your neck and shoulders
  2. Inhale for two seconds (this doesn’t need to be a deep breathe)
  3. Pucker your lips (like you are about to whistle) and breathe out for four seconds.
  4. Do this 3-4 times a day so you can pick up the correct breathing pattern.

Abdominal Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing helps you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing, strengthening the diaphragm and slowing your breathing. This works well before stressful events or before bed. When first learning this technique it might be easier to lie down.

  1. Take a deep breathe in through your nose, ensuring it’s your stomach that inflates with air, not your chest.
  2. Breathe in deeply for two seconds and don’t be afraid to push your stomach out as it expands with air. Your shoulders should not be rising or falling.
  3. Breathe out slowly through the mouth.
  4. Repeat for 5-10 minutes.

So, there you have it. 4 easy exercises you can use at your will whenever you feel any signs of stress or anxiety. To explore more stress and anxiety-reducing tips, take a look at some everyday mindfulness techniques and tips to conquer pressure.


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