Breathing Control Can Change Your Life

Posted by Anna Rider on June 16, 2021

When you are under stress your body reacts in a variety of different ways. Although everyone reacts to stress differently, there are a number of common techniques that can have a great impact on your body’s response.  

When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. One of the most useful methods of lessening these reactions is to control your breathing. 

By controlling your breathing you are, in essence, telling your body that everything is ok and under control. This allows your body to relax, slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. This isn’t just useful in terms of stress. It can also be helpful in controlling anxiety and symptoms of depression. 

Controlling your breathing is a form of "entry level" meditation that anyone can do. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to simply focus your attention on your breath.  

There are many forms of breathing, and they are all effective in reducing your body’s response to stress. We will discuss just a few of them here. While we shouldn’t stay in a prolonged state of controlled breath, starting the practice for a few moments per day can make you more conscious of your habits outside of the exercise. 

Ideally, for a full deep breathing exercise, you should find a comfortable seat in an upright position. As you inhale, your diaphragm muscle contracts downwards and as you exhale, the muscle relaxes upward; having the space in your physical body to expand is helpful in order to reap the benefits. 

  1. Just Breathe 
    The simplest breathing technique is to count your breaths. You start by counting 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, 3 on the inhale, and so forth. You can choose to count up to five, then repeat back at one, to make sure your attention doesn’t wander.  
  1. Box Breathing 
    Breath in for the same number of seconds, holding it in for the same number of seconds, exhaling for the same number of seconds, and pausing at the bottom for same number of seconds. An ideal sequence is 4-4-4-4, taking great care to expand your belly on the inhale. This is so great for calming your stress response and promoting healing in your body. 
  1. Alternate Nostril Breathing  
    This is a practice that can increase energy and calmness. This is best practiced sitting straight with a long spine — take your thumb and close off one nostril, then inhale fully. When your lungs have expanded completely, release your thumb and immediately use your ring finger to close off the opposite nostril and exhale slowly. You will repeat while switching nostrils for your inhales and exhales. 
  1. Deep Breathing  
    This technique helps to relieve shortness of breath by preventing air from getting trapped in your lungs and helping you to breathe in more fresh air. It may help you to feel more relaxed. To do this, while standing or sitting, draw your elbows back slightly to allow your chest to expand. Take a deep inhalation through your nose. Retain your breath for a count of 5. Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose. 

These are just a few of the many, many breathing techniques that can help you to control your breathing and give you a sense of calm and peacefulness. Don’t wait until the next time you are feeling really stressed out to try these breathing exercises. Start practicing them now and that way when you do need them, they will come as second nature. 

If you would like more tips and ideas on dealing with stress and improving your health visit my website at  

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