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5 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Breathing exercises are a powerful tool in the reduction of stress and anxiety. When we breathe deeply and slowly, our bodies can relax, and our minds can ease into a calmer state.

Here are five breathing exercises you can practice to achieve mindfulness-based stress reduction and relief from anxiety:

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is also known as belly breathing. Diaphragmatic Breathing is a technique that involves breathing deeply into your abdomen rather than your chest. This type of breathing can help reduce tension in your body and promote relaxation.

To do diaphragmatic breathing, sit or lie down comfortably. Place your right hand on your chest and the left on your abdomen. Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your abdomen expand as you breathe in. Slowly exhale through your mouth and feel your abdomen contract as you breathe out. Repeat this for a few minutes, focusing on how you breathe and allowing any tension to release with each exhale.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing

This yogic technique can help balance your energy and calm your mind. This technique involves breathing in and out through one nostril at a time while using your fingers to block the other nostril.

To do alternate nostril breathing, sit and place your left hand on your left knee with your palm

facing up. Use your right hand to block your right nostril and slowly inhale through the left nostril. Then, block your left nostril with your right thumb and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, then block it with the right ring finger and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat this for several minutes, focusing on your breath and the movement of your fingers.

3. Box Breathing

This type of breathing, also known as four-square breathing, is a technique involving inhaling for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, then exhaling for a count of four, and holding your breath for another count of four. This can help reduce anxiety and promote calmness.

To do box breathing, sit comfortably and inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold breath for four counts, then exhale slowly through your mouth for the same count. Hold your breath for four counts before inhaling again. Repeat this for several minutes, focusing on your breath and your counting.

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing your muscles in a specific order to help promote relaxation and reduce tension in your body. This technique can be particularly effective for people who carry tension in their muscles due to stress and anxiety.

To do progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down in a relaxing position. Start by tensing the muscles in your feet and holding for a few seconds before releasing the tension. Move up your body, tensing and releasing the muscles in your calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, arms, shoulders, neck, and face. Repeat this for a few minutes, focusing on the sensation of the tensing and releasing of each muscle group.

5. Mindful Breathing

Focus on your breath and the present moment. This technique can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation by bringing your attention to the present moment and away from stressful thoughts.

To do mindful breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and bring your attention to your breath. Focus on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your nose or mouth. If your mind wanders elsewhere, simply bring your attention back to your breath. Repeat this a few times, allowing any thoughts or feelings to simply be present without judgment.


Breathing exercises are a simple but powerful tool in the reduction of stress and anxiety. By incorporating these easy techniques into your daily routine, you can learn to manage your stress and anxiety and promote relaxation and calmness in your life. Experiment with varied techniques to find the ones that work best for you, making a commitment to practice them regularly. With time and practice, you can find mindfulness-based stress reduction and anxiety relief.

Lisa Sabatini is a holistic professional who helps clients heal and improve their lives. With the use of a mind-body-spirit approach to health and well-being, I can help you on your own individual healing journey. Schedule an appointment today and experience the benefits of energetic medicine in Ottawa!

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