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Control Your Stress: 4 Proven Breathing Techniques for Instant Calm

Updated: Mar 25

Breathing techniques for stress relief

Embracing the Soothing Influence of Mindful Respiration.

Discovering serenity doesn't have to be complicated. By learning 4 proven breathing techniques for stress control you can effectively ease stress and promote a sense of calm. These techniques work by practicing attentive and purposeful breathing patterns, which hold the key to positively influencing both your physical and mental well-being. In the following sections, you'll learn 4 of these gentle breath modulation exercises.

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing)

Woman demonstrating Diaphragmatic Breathing

How to do it:

Find a comfortable and quiet space to sit or lie down.

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen, just below your ribcage.

Inhale slowly through your nose, letting the air fill your abdomen and expand your diaphragm. Your chest should remain relatively still.

Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your abdomen to fall as you release the air.

Benefits: Diaphragmatic breathing helps activate the body's relaxation response by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. This response can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, and calm the mind, making it an effective tool for managing anxiety and stress.

2. 4-7-8 Breathing (Relaxing Breath):

Woman demonstrating 4-7-8 breathing

How to do it:

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

Hold your breath for a count of seven.

Exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight, making a whooshing sound.

Benefits: The 4-7-8 breathing technique helps regulate the breath and encourages a longer exhale, which can activate the body's relaxation response and reduce feelings of tension and anxiety.

3. Box Breathing (Square Breathing)

How to do it:

Sit up straight and close your eyes.

Inhale slowly through your nose to a count of four.

Hold your breath for a count of four.

Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of four.

Hold your breath again for a count of four.

Benefits: Box breathing helps create a rhythmic pattern of breath and can induce a calming effect by providing a structured focus on your breath.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing:

Man and Woman demonstrating alternate nostril breathing

How to do it:

Sit comfortably with your spine straight.

Use your right thumb to close off your right nostril, and inhale deeply through your left nostril.

Close off your left nostril with your right ring finger, and release your right nostril.

Exhale completely through your right nostril.

Inhale deeply through your right nostril.

Close off your right nostril, release your left nostril, and exhale through your left nostril.

Benefits: Alternate nostril breathing, a technique from yoga, helps balance the left and right sides of the brain and can promote a sense of mental clarity and relaxation.


Deep breathing exercises are versatile tools that you can use anytime, anywhere, to quickly reduce anxiety and stress levels. Practicing these techniques regularly can help you build a strong foundation for managing your mental well-being and can complement other relaxation and mindfulness practices. Remember that consistency is key, and with time and practice, you'll likely experience the benefits of deep breathing on both your mental and physical state.

Sharon Shinwell is a UK qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist.

Visit our main site where you will find several Self-Hypnosis sessions which employ some of the above breathing techniques.


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