Breathing Techniques for Stress & Anxiety

Breathing Techniques for Stress & Anxiety

This and other breathing exercises, if practiced regularly, can help to create a sense of calmness, regulate emotions and create a foundation for inner stability.

The purpose of this exercise is too active our safety system by bringing our awareness to our breath and intentionally changing the breath into a deep breath with a steady rate and flow. You can follow the instructions below:


First of all find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie. The purpose of the exercise is to remain alert and present so a straight back and good posture is recommended


Once you are comfortable and alert close your eyes and begin to notice what it’s like to be sat preparing to breathe


When you are ready move your attention onto your breathing


Pay attention to the sensations as the air moves in and out, or the temperature of the air on your lips and mouth or notice the rate of your breathing


As you breath in try to breathe slowly with a steady flow for 5, 6, 7, or 8 seconds, whatever you can manage. A slightly longer out-breath is recommended as this activates our safety system 


As you breathe out with a steady gentle flow until all the air has left your body. Then repeat
(N.B – if you feel a little light headed to during the early practices this is normal and to be expected)


Now imagine that you have a balloon in your belly. As you breathe in the balloon inflates and your belly expands. As you breathe out the balloon deflates and your belly shrinks


As you do the exercise you may well notice the tendency for your mind to wander and for your attention to drift. That’s okay, we suspend judgement. Part of the task is to notice how our minds demand our attention and distract us from other things. By becoming more familiar with your wandering mind you create the opportunity to spend less time with life’s stressor and strains


Whenever you notice your wandering mind, thank yourself for noticing and kindly bring your attention back to your breathing


You should practice the task for as long as you like. The more you practice the better you get and the greater the benefit

It’s important to realise that there are different reasons and feelings involved for everyone. Types of suicidal thoughts vary between people and over time, both in terms of how intense they are and how long they last.

When we notice that our attention and awareness has wandered onto other things gently guide it back to the breath and your experience of breathing. It is quite normal to have to do this many times during a single practice, particularly during the early stages. 

Finding the time to practice breathing techniques in this way can have a profound impact on levels of stress, anxiety and distress whilst optimising our potential to use our minds in the most skilful way.