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Deep Breathing: Are you doing it right?

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Deep Breathing: Are you doing it right?

I can’t begin to tell you guys how many times I have heard this phrase “take a deep breath”. Frankly speaking, it never made any sense to me. I never actually believed it to be relaxing or calming even when I attempted to try it out, not knowing I have been doing it wrong along.

Although my attempt to try deep breathing exercise did not work for me at the time, I am somewhat knowledgeable about the benefits of deep breathing exercises to the point where I encourage clients to utilize deep breathing as a relaxation technique. Some of these clients implement it as a coping mechanism, and it appears to be an effective short-term treatment for reducing anxiety and stress. Please note that the reason why deep breathing exercise was not working for me is something that I will discuss later on in this blog post.

Deep breathing is the act of engaging in a breathing form, where you feel air coming through your nose as it fills your lungs, causing a rise in your lower belly. For some people, it can feel relaxing and natural whereas others might consider it to be difficult or ineffective at first. This can imply that you are not using the right deep breathing technique. There are different types of deep breathing techniques including Asymmetric breathing, resistance, and dynamic breathing technique. Asymmetric deep breathing is the technique used to prolong exhalation and reduce inhalation. Resistance breathing consists of resisting from releasing the air. For example, making the ohm syllable. Dynamic breathing consists of imagination that can be very relaxing. For example, releasing air and imagining the wave withdrawing from that part of your body where you feel tension.

General steps for deep breathing exercise

There are several steps to acquiring proper deep breathing techniques. Some of these techniques will have to be implemented based on what works best for you –your comfort level. I mentioned comfort level because I believe, it is important to identify and recognize your comfort level especially when trying out something new like deep breathing exercise. By doing so, you will be able to recognize the best form of deep breathing to utilize for your stress and anxiety. Some general steps that may help elicit deep breathing and relaxation include;

  • First, you will need to make time to practice is on a regular basis. Since I am new to deep breathing exercise, I try to squeeze in 15 minutes.
  • Find a comfortable relaxing space for you.
  • Be committed to your deep breathing exercise, use a clock or watch to monitor time.
  • Position yourself properly by sitting in a comfortable way.
  • Next thing you want to do is, close your eyes. Prior to this step, I like to think of something that makes me happy or that I find to be relaxing.
  • Relax your muscles by releasing all tension.
  • Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
  • Take a deep breathe through by exhaling through your mouth. The hand on your belly should rise while keeping the hand on your chest steady or moving very little.
  • Repeat for 10- 20 minutes or more if your body is capable and stay focused throughout
  • Stay relaxed and quiet for 1 or 2 minutes after your deep breathing exercise.
  • Practice at least once a day, same location and time if possible.

Does deep breathing always work?

Deep breathing can help relax the body, reduce anxiety and stress.  Different types of regular deep breathing exercise have shown to improve autonomic functions by either lowering sympathetic activity or increasing vagal tone. It can also be difficult at first, especially if you are not implementing the right techniques or the right deep breathing exercise. This is why it is recommended to find out, which deep breathing exercise works best for your body and mind.

Choosing the right relaxation technique

Prior to feeling any positive result from deep breathing exercise, I did not believe that it would ever work for me to the point where I almost gave up after several attempts. Fortunately, I was able to figure out which breathing technique works best for my body and mind. To figure out the best one for you, you will need to identify what relaxation response you anticipate to achieve. For example, if you are attempting deep breathing exercise to help reduce anxiety, stress, depression and increase focus, then mindfulness or slow deep breathing exercise might be the best one to utilize. I use slow deep breathing exercise to increase focus, cleanse my thoughts and most importantly, to relax and it works great for me. I recommend researching further about several relaxation techniques, that way you have an idea of which one to use. Also, consult your doctor or therapist for a more professional recommendation.


Difference between Hyperventilation and Deep breathing

Some people tend to confuse deep breathing with hyperventilation but they are very different. Hyperventilation is a state of excessively breathing very fast –a rapid deep breathing. I experience this when I get my infamous anxiety attacks; not fun. To understand more about the difference, please look at the link below.

In the meantime, remember to utilize deep breathing exercise, it can be beneficial to your overall emotional health and wellness.




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