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Breathe Easy: Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety

Deep breathing is a proven way to lower stress. Breathing deeply signals to your brain and body to calm down and relax. This relaxation response decreases heart rate, slows breathing, and lowers blood pressure.


There are many kinds of deep breathing you can do to help relax. Diaphragmatic breathing is simple to learn and easy to do. It's best to start there if you have never done breathing exercises before.

How to do diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.

  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

  4. Breathe out through pursed lips. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

Box breathing can be used when doing diaphragmatic breathing and is also easy and quick to learn. This breathing exercise is useful in stressful situations when you want to focus or improve concentration.


How to do box breathing:

  • Step 1: Breathe in counting to 4 slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.

  • Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Try to avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.

  • Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.

  • Step 4: Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel re-centered.

Repeat this exercise as many times as you can. 30 seconds of deep breathing will help you feel more relaxed and in control.


Want to try guided deep breathing exercises? Check out the free* apps — iBreathe and Breathe+ — that provide simple visualizations to guide your breathing and allow you to set breath intervals.


(*additional in-app purchase for ad-free use)


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