Deep Breathing Exercises You Can Do Anywhere!

When you think about stressful situations that you face often, what comes to mind? It could be school, work, or even being around family and friends. Some of us may be easily overwhelmed by loud sounds, bright lights, or strong smells. Learning how to cope with stressors in our environment is important to maintaining our mental health. One way to regulate ourselves when we face a stressful situation is by doing breath work.

What is Breath work?

Defined by Webster’s Dictionary breath work is conscious, controlled breathing. It is often used in yoga, for relaxation, and therapeutic purposes. When you are feeling stressed, you may experience rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and shortness of breath. In a study cited by headspace, one study conducted at Columbia University found that slow, deep breathing was able to reduce stress by slowing rapid heart rate and decreasing blood pressure. Long-term breath work was shown to decrease overall levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Now that we know the science behind deep breathing, how can we put this skill into practice?

Breathing exercises you can try today:

Box Breathing: To practice box breathing, first visualize a square. If you want, you can draw a square and trace the outline with your finger as you breathe. To complete this exercise you are going to complete four four-counts. First, inhale for four, then hold the inhale for four, exhale for four, then hold the exhale for four. You can repeat this as many times as needed. If you would like a visual to help you complete this exercise, check out the site linked above!

4-7-8 Breathing: Another technique similar to box breathing is called 4-7-8 breathing. For this exercise, you are going to sit or lay comfortably with your back straight. You are going to inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: For this technique, you are going to first fully exhale. Then using your right thumb cover your right nostril and breathe in through your left. After inhaling with your left nostril, close it with one of your fingers, and exhale through the right. Then repeat this technique, inhaling through the right nostril, and closing it with your right thumb before exhaling through the left. Repeat as needed.

Interested in learning more?

There are many apps on the app store to support you along your journey such as headspace, the Calm app, and Breathwrk. Not all of the features on these apps are free, but you can find many breathing exercises on headspace’s YouTube page free of charge. Check out their videos on; extended exhales, belly breathing, and many other techniques.

Do you use breathing exercises throughout the day? Which exercises work best for you?

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: We look forward to talking to you!

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