4 simple breathing exercises for instant relaxation

Feeling anxious or stressed out? Take a couple of minutes to sit back and just breathe. Breathing exercises are a highly effective, quick and easy solution for stress and anxiety relief. Proper breathing techniques have an effect on anxiety instantaneously by lowering your heart rate making you feel calmer and relaxed. It can also alleviate symptoms of anxiety when in the midst of an attack, while also adopting a more mindful mindset to help prevent them moving forward.

All exercises work wonders, but to save you the hassle and stress of having to research online and looking for ones that are easy and give instant relief, we’ve narrowed in on these 4 effective yet simple breathing exercises for anxiety relief, all of which are often recommended by professional therapists.

The Measured Breath

  • You can sit or stand, but be sure to soften up a little before you begin. Make sure your hands are relaxed, and your knees are soft.

  • Drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax.

  • Now breath in slowly through your nose and count to four, keep your shoulders down and allow your stomach to expand as you breathe in.

  • Hold the breath for a moment.

  • Now release your breath slowly and smoothly as you count to seven.

  • Repeat for a couple of minutes.

Belly Breathing

  • Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed. In this exercise, your stomach should expand, but your chest should rise very little. So, if you want, you can place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest so you can feel how you are breathing.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep tongue and jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale. That's good, listen for that sound every time your practice and learn to value it as the sound of relaxation.

  • Repeat this breathing exercise for several minutes. Make your outgoing breath as long and smooth as you can. The out breath is the key to relaxation so give it your full attention and practice breathing out in a long slow controlled breath and you will quickly feel the benefit.

Abdominal Breathing Technique

  • With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs.

  • The goal: Six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure.

  • Keep at it for six to eight weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril.

  • At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril.

  • Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril.