Let's take a breather! This breathing exercise provides immediate relief from anxiety and stress

Let's take a breather! This breathing exercise provides immediate relief from anxiety and stress

Harnessing the Power of Breath: A Guide to Relieving Anxiety and Stress

Today's Big Feels inspired by a transformative practice that has helped me immensely. In the video I share a practical starting point for anyone seeking stress relief and relaxation. I guide James (and you) through a breathing exercise designed to alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression. After the video, let's delve into the key takeaways from this practice and explore how breathing exercises can positively impact our mental and physical well-being.

Let's take a breather! This breathing exercise provides immediate relief from anxiety and stress.

Understanding the Role of Breath in Stress Relief

Breathing exercises are powerful tools that tap into the innate connection between our breath and our nervous system. When we're stressed, anxious, or feeling down, our breathing often becomes shallow and rapid, triggering our body's fight-or-flight response. This response further contributes to feelings of unease and tension. 

By practicing intentional breathing exercises, such as the one demonstrated in the video, we can effectively shift our body's response. Deep, mindful breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol. This shift in our physiological state can lead to a calmer mind and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.

And you don't need a lot of time! Just a few minutes to yourself (like I mention, perhaps step away to your car or a restroom if you are in public) can make a difference. 

Step by Step Guide to Practice Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief

  1. Mindfulness and Presence: I like to emphasize the importance of mindfulness during the breathing exercise. Focusing on the sensation of each breath as it enters and leaves the body brings us into the present moment, allowing us to let go of intrusive thoughts and worries.
  1. Deep Abdominal Breathing: While you are practicing this exercise I encourage you to practice deep abdominal breathing, which helps fully oxygenate the body and activate the relaxation response. This technique counteracts shallow chest breathing associated with stress. Breathe in deeply  until you feel your belly move. Place your hand on your abdomen to connect with your breath. 
  1. Counting and Rhythmic Breathing: Incorporating a rhythmic pattern, such as counting inhalations and exhalations, enhances the effectiveness of the exercise. This simple technique promotes a steady, calming rhythm that synchronizes body and mind.
  1. Physical and Emotional Release: As we engage in deep breathing, you may notice physical tension gradually releasing from areas like your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Simultaneously, emotional tension can dissipate, providing a sense of relief and lightness.

Health Benefits of Regular Breathing Practice

Integrating regular breathing practice into your day has a myriad of benefits, and they are all things that add up and lead to better mental health overall. Let's go over a few ways that breathing exercises help you to feel better mentally and physically.

  • Improved Sleep Quality: Deep breathing before bedtime can calm the mind and prepare the body for restful sleep. 
  • Enhanced Focus and Clarity: Oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain supports cognitive function, aiding in concentration and mental clarity. 
  • Strengthened Immune System: Reduced stress levels contribute to a stronger immune response, protecting against illness and promoting overall health. 
  • Emotional Resilience: Regular practice cultivates emotional resilience, empowering us to better manage daily challenges and setbacks. 

Incorporating intentional breathing exercises into our daily lives is a powerful strategy for managing stress, anxiety, and depression. In the video above, James and I share a practical starting point for anyone seeking relief and relaxation. Remember, the breath is a constant anchor amidst life's turbulence—harness its calming power to nurture your well-being and embrace a more balanced, peaceful existence.

Additional Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief

On The #DebbieDaily (a weekly post from Debbie Whitehead featured on our Instagram) Debbie describes the "4-7-8 Method" of breathing. Why not give this a try?




How Can I Incorporate Breathing Exercises into My Day to Alleviate Stress?

It doesn't take much time to incorporate a breathing exercise into your day, but being consistent about it will help you to have the most effective results. Even a couple of weeks ago I sat down with Jenna Willis, and she shared about her own favorite breathing technique. It takes just a couple minutes to feel better using this "alternate nostril breathing technique."

Now, let's dive deeper into additional advice and techniques to make breathing exercises a seamless part of your life. Below are simple tips to help with staying consistent. Try incorporating these breathing exercises for 21 days, and see how you feel. It takes just 21 days to make a new habit.

Set Regular Reminders

Staying consistent with breathing exercises is key to reaping their benefits. Set reminders on your phone or computer to take a few minutes for deep breathing several times a day. This can be especially helpful during busy work hours when stress tends to peak.

Practice Mindful Breathing

Combine mindfulness with your breathing exercises. As you inhale and exhale, focus your mind entirely on the sensations of your breath. Notice how the air feels entering your nostrils and filling your lungs. Mindful breathing enhances relaxation and improves concentration.

Use Visualization Techniques

Incorporate visualization to enhance the calming effect of your breathwork. As you inhale slowly, visualize positive energy or light entering your body. With each exhale, imagine releasing tension and negativity. This combination of breathing and visualization can amplify stress relief.

Experiment with Different Techniques

Don't hesitate to explore various breathing techniques beyond the basics. Try the examples we have suggested to experiment with alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana), box breathing (square breathing), or the 4-7-8 technique. Each method offers unique benefits and can cater to different stress triggers.

Integrate Breathing into Daily Tasks

Link breathing exercises with daily activities. For instance, practice deep breathing while commuting, during a coffee break, during a bathroom break, or before bedtime. By integrating breathwork into existing routines, you'll find it easier to stay consistent.

Use Breathing Apps or Guided Sessions

Harness technology to support your practice. Download breathing apps or find guided breathing exercises online. These resources can provide structure, motivation, and variety to your sessions. You can find a plethora of guided meditations I have created for you in the Tone It Up app! 

Combine Breathing with Movement

I love to pair my breathing exercises with another favorite practice of mine, yoga. Flow through poses while synchronizing your breath. Breathing is also a great addition to your stretch session at the gym. Movement can enhance circulation, further reduce stress, and promote overall well-being.

Stay Patient and Persistent

Like any skill, mastering breathing exercises takes time and patience. Don't be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep practicing regularly, and you'll gradually notice improvements in stress management and mental clarity.

Track Your Progress

I like to put the habits I'm working on in my planner. Your journal or planner can be a great place to track your breathing practice and its impact on your stress levels. Note down any patterns or changes you observe in your mood and energy throughout the day. This feedback loop can help you see changes overtime and reinforce your commitment to the practice.

Share with Others

Accountability partners are also a favorite way I love to help me honor my commitments to myself. Share your experiences with friends, family, or colleagues, and ask if they want to join in, too, or simply discuss the benefits you've noticed. Building a supportive community around mindfulness can deepen your practice and inspire others.

Incorporating breathing exercises for stress relief doesn't require elaborate rituals or extensive training. With dedication and exploration, you can cultivate a calming breathing practice that fits seamlessly into your daily life, nurturing resilience and well-being amidst life's challenges. Start small, stay consistent, and enjoy the transformative power of mindful breathing.

Use this Anti-Anxiety Breathing Method

Vocal transformation coach Maryn Azoff shares a life-giving breathing exercise.


How are you really feeling? We'd love to hear about your week, or share your favorite tools for the week in the comments!

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The information provided is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Users are advised to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if they're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.

**Please note that if your thoughts start becoming hopeless or suicidal, contact emergency at 988 or 911 andcrisis services immediately. You can find more resourceshere. Text HELLO to 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.


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