I’ve been researching resources that could help clients experiencing distress, anxiety and depression and the tools that repeatedly pop up relate to breathing techniques. Yoga instructors, health experts and psychologist all explain the benefits of breathing techniques from a biological, physical and psychological perspective. So I thought it may be useful to reiterate these benefits and offer a few techniques that I’m familiar with and use.

Very briefly, breathing exercise stimulate the nervous system (more specifically the vagus nerve), which helps lower your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and relax muscles and therefore calms your body.  And a calm body can help calm the mind, help you focus more ( move away from scattered thinking) and help you when you are in “fight” or “flight” mode.

There is a difference between how we breathe day to day and these exercise. To explain this, place your hand on your upper chest and breathe three times. You’ll notice that when your breathing is shallow and in moments of stress sometimes faster; it is at these times that deeper and slower breathing offers calm.

There are a number breathing exercises that are available and accessible online – below are 3 that I have found useful in my own work:


  1.  Sit comfortably in a chair, stand up or lie down but whichever way please be aware of your posture and relax your shoulders.  You can open or close your eyes – it’s up to you.
  2. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach.
  3. Breath in through your nose for approx. 4 second and push the breath into your stomach and extend your stomach like it’s a balloon filling up with air.  Remember your belly needs to rise and not your upper chest.
  4. Purse your lips as if you’re drinking through a straw and exhale the air in your stomach slowly and the belly in your balloon is fully deflating.
  5. Repeat this 3 or 4 times
  6. Try and repeat this exercise 3 times a day.


  1. Sit comfortably in a chair, aware of your posture and relax your shoulders.
  2. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly.
  3. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to 4. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut.
  4. Begin to slowly exhale.
  5. Hold your exhale while counting slowly to 4.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times.
  7. Try and repeat this exercise 3 times a day.

Below is a visual aid to help you with this breathing technique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJJazKtH_9I


This is a breathing technique I came across and practised myself and found it calming and focusing.  I’ve attached a video link to Dr Karen Treisman explain what to do here.

If you find these exercise useful then I’d invite you to practice these exercises regularly on a daily basis, through good and so good times.

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