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Breathing Exercises For Effective Stress Relief

Madhura Mohan

Posted on June 18 2020

Stress is taking a toll on the present-day generation and people are on a constant lookout for effective stress relief techniques. Routine life stressors like traffic-filled commute, deadlines, family obligations, a difficult boss, personal life commitments, illness, loud volume of the TV, mobile phones ringing, not getting enough sleep drain your body and mind of energy.

What are the ways you follow to find relief from stress? Does stress relief mean zoning out in front of the TV, listening to music, playing mobile games, taking massage therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy etc to you? How helpful are these techniques in calming your mind?

The common human tendency is to undermine what we already have and seek support from external sources. Something that comes our way easily and effortlessly is often paid less attention to and this is exactly what is we do with our breath.

Here you caught the right word guys…this article is oriented on how mindful breathing supports effective stress response.

Yes, ‘breath’ is a natural stress management tool which our system is carrying with it involuntarily all day long.


What Is Breath?

Keeping all the scientific terminologies and explanation aside, breath in simple terms is a force that sustains our life. We all breathe without paying much attention to it because our body does it automatically to us. However, our nature of breathing greatly influences our stress response. Proper mindful breathing will bring our mind and body into balance, deescalate stress, and encourages positive thinking.


Normal Breathing Vs Breathing During Times Of Stress

Have you ever noticed the change in your breathing pattern at normal times and when you are stressed?

During our normal breathing, we breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide through the movement of the lungs. Our diaphragm and muscles between the ribs control the movement of the lungs. The same does not happen while we are stressed.

When under stress, our breathing pattern changes. When we are anxious, we take shallow breaths using our shoulders rather the diaphragm to move air in and out of our lungs. We call this style of breathing as wrong as shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs does not get a complete share of oxygen which may make you feel short of breath and anxious.

If you haven’t followed our blog, Is There A Link Between Stress & Weight Gain? , click on the link to get complete information about stress and its negative impacts on the body.


How Does The Body Respond To Stress?

Our body responds to stress by activating the hypothalamus, triggering our adrenal glands to release cortisol. When appropriately invoked, stress helps us to rise to many challenges but the stress response if constantly provoked, your cortisol levels are running high which heads you for health troubles. While it is difficult to avoid all sources of stress in our lives, we can definitely develop healthier ways of responding to them.              

The different breathing techniques illustrated below help to bring about relaxation. The main aim of all these breathing exercises is to focus your attention on your breath (both the inhale and exhale) and shift from upper chest breathing to abdominal breathing.

Deep breathing exercises make your mind free of racing thoughts, stimulate the brain to release chemicals called endorphins which reduce stress or stress-related symptoms like depression or fatigue.

All you need to do is choose a quiet and relaxed place and spend 15 minutes to practise these breathing exercises daily. You may find it easier to hold onto your focus with your eyes closed.




This breathing technique increases your energy and calmness, produces stable, pure state of mind, improves your ability to focus, helps remove toxins and settle stress.   



1. Sit straight with a long spine with your head and upper body aligned.

2. To begin with, close your right nostril with the help of your right thumb.

3. Inhale slowly and deeply with your left nostril.

4. When your lungs are full and expanded completely, release your thumb and immediately use your ring finger to close the opposite nostril and exhale slowly with your right nostril.

5. Repeat for 5 to 10 cycles by switching nostrils for your inhales and exhales.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ABDOMINAL BREATHING




This type of breathing reduces your body’s flight or fight response, stimulates the activity of vagus nerve, strengthen your diaphragm muscles and calms you down.       

1. Sit comfortably.                                                                         

2. Place one hand on your chest and other on your abdomen (just below the ribs). 






3. Gently breathe in and breathe out through your nose.

4. Concentrate on your breath.

5. Take notice of how your upper chest and abdomen are moving while you breathe.

6. See that your upper chest is still, allowing the diaphragm to move more efficiently with your abdomen rather than your chest.

7. Breathe out with your lips pursed, making a whistling sound.

8. While you breathe slowly and with your abdomen, enjoy the sense of physical relaxation.

9. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.








This is yet another simple breathing exercise that helps reduce stress and ease anxiety. This exercise is extremely good for your body and intends to ensure that the lengths of the inhale and exhale are equal.

1. Sit straight with eyes closed.

2. Start with normal breathing.

3. Inhale slowly for a count of 4.

4. Pause at the top of the breath for a count of 1.

5. Slowly exhale for a count of 4.

6. Pause again for a count of 1.

7. Continue this breathing pattern for several times.


                                                                                                                                                               2:1 BREATHING





When you are anxious, you’ll find your exhalations getting shorter. The more number of shallow breaths you take can trigger more anxiety and imbalances in gases in the body.                                                                                         

2:1 breathing technique focuses on the exhale and is extremely calming.                                                                                         

1. Sit comfortably and breathe through your abdomen.

2. Inhale for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 3 as in equal breathing technique.

3. Now, start to deepen exhalations.

4. Inhale for a count of 2 and exhale for a count of 4.

5. Focus on a smooth transition between inhalation and exhalation.

6. Repeat for a count of 5.


Don’t let stress take a toll on your body…practice the breathing exercises regularly even if you are not stressed or just a bit stressed…


The simple do-it-anywhere breathing exercises will resonate with you, fit your lifestyle and bring about effective stress management…


Also read: Is there a link between stress & weight gain 

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1 comment

  • Meghana: November 02, 2020

    Very nice topic and information for the current pandemic situation.

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