breathwork for relaxation and stress relief

5 Best Breathing Techniques for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Are you aware that stress is responsible for up to 60% of all illnesses and diseases? It's a staggering statistic that highlights the importance of finding effective ways to relax and relieve stress.

Luckily, there are five breathing techniques that have been proven to be highly beneficial for relaxation and stress relief. These techniques are simple, yet powerful tools that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.

So, if you're looking for effective ways to manage stress and find inner calm, keep reading to discover the five best breathing techniques that can help you achieve just that.

Key Takeaways

  • Diaphragmatic breathing activates the relaxation response in the body, reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
  • Box breathing is a technique that helps reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance sleep quality by following a specific pattern of inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding again.
  • Alternate nostril breathing balances energy, stimulates brain hemispheres, and regulates heart rate and blood pressure for improved mental well-being.
  • The 4-7-8 breathing technique activates the relaxation response, reduces anxiety, and regulates heart rate and breathing by inhaling, holding, and exhaling for specific counts. It can be practiced anywhere and at any time.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

To achieve deep relaxation and effectively manage stress, diaphragmatic breathing is a highly recommended technique. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or deep breathing, involves using your diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle located below your lungs, to control your breath. This technique has numerous benefits for your physical and mental well-being.

One of the key benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is its ability to activate the body's relaxation response. By deeply inhaling and exhaling from your diaphragm, you stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. This can promote a sense of calm and reduce anxiety and stress.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your abdomen.
  3. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen lower.
  5. Continue breathing deeply, focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen with each breath.

Box Breathing

Box breathing is a simple yet effective technique for promoting relaxation and reducing stress. This technique involves consciously controlling your breath by inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding again, each for a specific count of seconds.

Here are some benefits and techniques of box breathing that you can try:

  • Reduced stress: Box breathing activates the body's relaxation response, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress levels.
  • Improved focus: By focusing on the breath and counting the seconds, box breathing helps improve concentration and enhance mental clarity.
  • Better sleep: Practicing box breathing before bedtime can help relax the body and mind, promoting a more restful sleep.

To practice box breathing, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of four seconds.
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  5. Hold your breath for a count of four seconds.
  6. Repeat this cycle for several minutes, gradually increasing the duration if desired.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a breathing technique that involves alternating the flow of breath between your nostrils. This practice is often used in yoga techniques and meditation practices to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

To perform alternate nostril breathing, sit comfortably with your spine straight and close your eyes. Begin by using your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then, close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril.

Continue this pattern by inhaling through the right nostril, closing it with your thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril. This technique is believed to balance the energy of the body by stimulating the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Scientific research suggests that alternate nostril breathing can help regulate heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve overall mental well-being. Incorporating this technique into your daily routine may provide a natural and effective way to relax and alleviate stress.

4-7-8 Breathing

Breathing deeply and slowly can have a calming effect on your body and mind, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. One technique for mindful breathing that can be particularly effective is -8 breathing.

Here are some benefits of deep breathing and techniques for incorporating -8 breathing into your relaxation routine:

  • Deep breathing can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm by activating the body's relaxation response.
  • -8 breathing involves inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of 8, holding your breath for a count of 8, and exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this pattern several times.
  • This technique helps regulate your breathing and can slow down your heart rate, allowing you to feel more centered and in control.
  • -8 breathing can be done anywhere and at any time, making it a convenient tool for stress relief in various situations.
  • Practicing -8 breathing regularly can improve your lung capacity and increase oxygen flow, leading to better overall health.
  • Incorporating -8 breathing into your daily routine can help you build resilience to stress and enhance your ability to relax and unwind.

Incorporating -8 breathing into your relaxation routine can provide numerous benefits for your physical and mental well-being. Give it a try and experience the calming effects for yourself.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Deep Breathing

To further enhance your relaxation routine, consider incorporating progressive muscle relaxation along with deep breathing techniques.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation technique that involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body. This technique helps to reduce muscle tension and promote a state of deep relaxation. By systematically tensing and releasing your muscles, you can increase your body awareness and learn to recognize and release tension in different parts of your body.

Deep breathing, on the other hand, is a simple yet powerful technique that can help you relax and reduce stress. When you take slow, deep breaths, it signals your body to activate its relaxation response, which can counteract the effects of the stress response. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It also slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

When combined, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing can have a synergistic effect, amplifying the benefits of each technique. By incorporating both techniques into your relaxation routine, you can enhance your ability to relax, reduce stress, and promote a greater sense of well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing to See Results?

To see results from diaphragmatic breathing, practice it regularly. The frequency depends on your individual needs and goals. Consistency is key. Diaphragmatic breathing has numerous benefits for overall well-being, so make it a part of your daily routine.

Can Box Breathing Be Beneficial for Relieving Anxiety During a Panic Attack?

During a panic attack, box breathing can be beneficial for relieving anxiety. It helps regulate your breathing and activate the body's relaxation response. Incorporating diaphragmatic breathing further enhances its stress-relieving benefits.

Is It Safe to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing if I Have a Deviated Septum?

If you have a deviated septum, practicing alternate nostril breathing may not be safe. However, you can still benefit from box breathing for stress relief. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Can the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique Help With Falling Asleep Faster?

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can help you fall asleep faster. By using this technique for stress management, you can promote relaxation and calmness. Additionally, diaphragmatic breathing has numerous benefits for your overall well-being.

Are There Any Precautions or Contraindications to Consider Before Trying Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Deep Breathing?

Before trying progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing, it is important to consider precautions and contraindications. These can vary depending on individual health conditions, so it's best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance.


In conclusion, incorporating these breathing techniques into your daily routine can significantly help in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Whether it's the deep belly breaths of diaphragmatic breathing or the structured pattern of box breathing, these evidence-based techniques have been proven effective in calming the mind and body.

So take a moment to breathe and find relief from the everyday hustle and bustle.

Remember, taking a breath is like hitting the reset button for your well-being.