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Coping with Stress Through Breathing

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain that can result from difficult or exhausting circumstances. If stress continues for a long period of time, it can result in negative effects on your health. A relatively easy way to calm down during periods of high stress is through simple breathing exercises, such as those described in this article.

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Focus on Your Breathing

Depending on the situation, the way that you breathe differs. Notice how you breathe when you are feeling calm, and pay attention to how your body feels. In these situations, your breathing will typically be slower and deeper. When you are feeling stressed, your body will tense up and your heart rate will increase, and this will cause you to breathe quite quickly. Breathing exercises are helpful because they allow you to bring your breath back to this calm, deep state, which it signals to your brain and body that it is ok to calm down. This helps to lower the amount of stress in your body, reduces tension, and thereby helps you to relax. 

© TimGoedhart/ (TimGoedhart/

Breathing Exercises

Here are a few simple breathing exercises which can help you to relax. 

1. Belly breathing 

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Place a hand on your belly, and another hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and feel the hand on your belly rise up. Breathe out through your mouth, and feel the hand on your belly lower. Do this breathing exercise around ten times, and take your time with each breath. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the breathing exercise.

2. Breath Focus 

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, and close your eyes. Take a few big breaths. As you breathe in, imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Try to feel it throughout your body. As you breathe out, imagine the air leaves with your stress and tension. Try to continue this breathing for around five minutes, or longer if you wish.

3. Lion’s Breath 

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Breathe in through your nose, and allow your belly to fill all the way up with air. When you cannot take in any more breath, open your mouth as wide as you can and breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat several times.

Taking time out of your day to focus on your breathing can greatly reduce the stress you have, and allow you to remain calm as new stresses are introduced throughout your day. Try these simple breathing exercises, or come up with your own, and pay attention to your increased mood afterward. 

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