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Breathing to reduce stress and anxiety


The use of breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, have been shown in studies to reduce cortisol levels in the body, and reduce anxiety and stress.


Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is our flight or fight or stress response. It’s a vital system as it prepares us to avoid danger. However, when we rely and use this system too much in response to everyday stressors it can become a problem to our health. Using this system sends the oxygen to your arms and legs so you are prepared to run or flee. This reduces the oxygen sent to our brain, which makes it difficult to think clearly.

Too much of this stress response can increase blood pressure, supress the immune system, increase cortisol and can contribute to anxiety and depression. 

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) on the other hand sends signals to your brain to let you know you’re safe. Its sometimes call the rest and digest system. It sends more blood to the brain, it conserves energy, slows your heart rate and increases intestinal and gland activity and helps the body relax. Deep breathing can help reduce SNS activity and increase PNS activity.

Diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation are believed to activate the PNS, reducing stress and anxiety and calming the body down. These deep breathing techniques are great for relieving the symptoms of anxiety. 


There is so many techniques out there, but I want to keep it simple.

First rate your anxiety or stress on a scale of 1-10 and rate it again after you finish.

Lay down and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.

Take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4s, focus on feeling the stomach rise. Imagine using the air to push against the hand on your stomach

Hold for 2 seconds

Exhale through the mouth like blowing out a candle for a count of 4s.

Do this for 5 mins minimum but longer if you have time.

Try to clear your mind and just focus on your breathing.

It will require practice so the more you do it the better you will get

Practice this daily and see if it helps reduce your stress and anxiety levels.