7 Effective Breathing Exercises For Anxiety Relief

breathing exercises for anxiety

Feeling anxious is like carrying a heavy weight inside you. Did you know? The 4-7-8 breathing technique comes from ancient yoga and helps calm your mind. This article will show you seven easy breathing exercises to lighten that load.

Keep reading; relief is closer than you think.

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Understanding Anxiety and the Role of Breathing

Anxiety grips your mind and body, sending your heart racing and thoughts spinning out of control. It’s a response to stress that can leave you feeling trapped and overwhelmed. But here’s something empowering – breathing exercises offer a bridge back to calmness.

Through controlled breaths, you engage the parasympathetic nervous system, effectively dialing down anxiety levels. This simple yet profound act shifts your body from fight-or-flight mode into a state of relaxation.

Research backs this up, showing how breathing techniques enhance mental health by easing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. Whether it’s deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, each breath serves as a step towards tranquility.

You learn not just to breathe but to listen deeply to what your body needs in moments of high tension. Let’s explore some effective breathing exercises next that have helped many regain their sense of peace amidst chaos.

Effective Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Relief

1. Learn effective breathing exercises for anxiety relief to help calm your mind and relax your body, paving the way for a peaceful state of being.

2. Discover powerful techniques like deep breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, resonance breathing, lion’s breath, and progressive relaxation breathing that can alleviate anxiety and bring tranquility to your day.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing stands at the heart of easing anxiety. It’s not just an exercise; it’s a bridge to tranquility, especially for those diving into personal growth and spirituality.

  • Find a Quiet Spot: Choose a place where distractions fade away. This space becomes your sanctuary for deep breathing exercises.
  • Sit Comfortably or Lie Down: Comfort is key. Whether you’re curled up on a couch or stretched out on the floor, ensure your body feels at ease.
  • Focus on Your Breath: Close your eyes gently. Tune into the rhythm of your breath. This moment is for you and your wellbeing.
  • Inhale Slowly Through Your Nose: Feel your lungs expand with air like balloons filling up. Count to four as you breathe in, feeling every second.
  • Hold Your Breath Briefly: After inhaling, hold that breath for a count of seven. It’s a pause in time, allowing the air to circulate deeply within you.
  • Exhale Slowly Through Your Mouth: Let the air escape slowly from your lips, counting to eight. Imagine stress and anxiety leaving your body with this breath.
  • Repeat the Cycle: Continue this pattern for several minutes – inhale through the nose, hold, exhale through the mouth – each step meticulously counted.
  • End With Gratitude: Once you finish your session, open your eyes slowly. Take a moment to feel grateful for this peaceful experience.

4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 breathing, also known as relaxation breath, taps into the power of pranayama to help you manage stress and anxiety. Dr. Andrew Weil made it popular, showing how it can promote better sleep and even handle panic attacks.

  1. Find a comfortable spot. Sit or lie down in a place where you won’t be disturbed. If sitting, keep your back straight and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. This position is crucial for the technique.
  3. Exhale completely through your mouth, making whoosh sound. Letting out all the air helps prepare for deeper inhalation.
  4. Close your mouth, then inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. This step begins the calming process.
  5. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Holding allows oxygen to fill your lungs and circulate throughout the body, promoting relaxation.
  6. Exhale completely through your mouth, making whoosh sound again, for a count of eight. This extended exhalation helps release anxiety and brings attention to the present moment.
  7. Repeat this cycle at least three more times or until you feel calmer. Regular practice enhances its effectiveness in reducing stress.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Transitioning from the calming 4-7-8 Breathing technique to Diaphragmatic Breathing, here’s how this exercise can help alleviate anxiety and improve overall well-being:

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly or abdominal breathing. It involves inhaling deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand when filling your lungs with air.
  2. This technique activates the diaphragm, the primary muscle involved in the breathing process, strengthening it and improving respiratory function.
  3. By engaging the diaphragm, oxygen intake increases, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels.
  4. With regular practice, diaphragmatic breathing can enhance exercise capacity and ease symptoms of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  5. This breathing method forms the foundation for various meditation and mindfulness practices that focus on regulation of breath to manage anxiety and promote mental wellness.
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Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing is simple yet powerful breathing technique. It can help lower anxietystress levels, and promote mental balance. Research has shown that it can improve concentration and overall better breathing.

  1. Method: Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
  2. How-to: Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Then close left nostril with your ring finger, release the right nostril, and exhale through this side. Now inhale through the right nostril, close it, release the left nostril, and exhale through it.
  3. Benefits: Alternate Nostril Breathing has been linked to enhancing the autonomic control of the heart by increasing parasympathetic modulation.
  4. Tradition: It’s considered to relieve mental unrest and promote physical and mental balance in yogic tradition.
  5. Long-term effects: One-month practice has shown improved breathing and reduced stress.
  6. Vagus nerve benefits: Associated with benefits for brain health via its positive influence on the vagus nerve.

Resonance Breathing

Resonance Breathing is a simple yet effective technique for anxiety relief, helping to calm the mind and body.

  1. It involves breathing in through the nose for six seconds and exhaling for the same count.
  2. Resonance Breathing lowers stress and blood pressureregulating the autonomic nervous system.
  3. This technique helps circulation and respiration work efficiently together, offering a calming and grounding effect on the mind and body.
  4. The Navy SEALs use box breathing, a form of resonance breathing, to effectively manage anxiety and stress.
  5. Lie down and close your eyes while practicing Resonance Breathing for maximum effectiveness.
  6. It’s a valuable tool in a set of breathing exercises for anxiety relief, recommended for its simplicity and efficacy.

Lion’s Breath

Transitioning from Resonance Breathing, let’s delve into the powerful practice of Lion’s Breath. This yogic breathing exercise is valued for its stress-relieving benefits and ability to reduce anxiety. It involves taking a deep inhale through the nose followed by a forceful exhale through the mouth while sticking out the tongue. Here are detailed steps to engage in Lion’s Breath:

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs with air.
  2. Exhale with power through your mouth, making a “ha” sound and sticking out your tongue as far as possible.
  3. Repeat this process up to seven times to fully experience the tension – relieving effects.

Progressive Relaxation Breathing

Progressive relaxation breathing involves tensing and then releasing each muscle group in the body to reduce tension and promote calmness.

  1. Start by finding a comfortable, quiet space to sit or lie down.
  2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths to center yourself.
  3. Begin with either your feet or hands, clenching the muscles tightly for 5 – 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly release the tension while focusing on the sensation of relaxation spreading throughout the muscle group.
  5. Move gradually through each muscle group, including legs, abdomen, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, and face.
  6. Remember to breathe slow and deeply and rhythmically throughout the process.
  7. Finish by taking a few minutes to relax completely and enjoy the sense of calmness that comes with this practice.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

Breathing exercises can also calm your nervous system and lower blood pressure, providing relief from anxiety. Scientific studies have also shown that controlling breath can effectively manage stress and related conditions.

Benefits of these exercises include a more relaxed body, lowered heart rate, distraction from anxiety, and reduction of stress, contributing to improved mental well-being.

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise acts as natural tranquilizer for nervous system while deep breathing techniques help relieve muscle stiffness and calm anxiety. These simple yet powerful exercises offer practical tools for managing anxiety and promoting overall emotional balance.

When Breathing Exercises Aren’t Enough: Other Coping Strategies

If you find that breathing exercises alone aren’t sufficient for managing anxiety, don’t worry. There are other effective coping strategies to explore, such as meditation, mindfulness practices, and yoga.

Engaging in consistent physical activitymaintaining healthy diet, and seeking support from friends or mental health professionals can also complement breathing exercises in alleviating stress and anxiety.

Remember that finding the right coping strategy may require some trial and error. Incorporating various techniques into your routine can help create a holistic approach to managing anxiety while promoting overall well-being.

Ready to dive into these additional coping strategies for ultimate anxiety relief? Let’s discover more ways to enhance your mental resilience.

Related: 5 Effective Breathing Exercises To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally


In summary, incorporating effective breathing exercises into your daily routine can significantly alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Deep breathing, 4-7-8 breathwork, diaphragmatic breathing, and alternate nostril breathing are just few techniques that can bring about quick relief.

These practices not only promote relaxation but also helps to overall mental well-being. By integrating these simple yet powerful exercises into your life, you can take positive steps toward managing anxiety and achieving a greater sense of calm.


What are breathing exercises for anxiety?

Breathing exercises for anxiety are simple techniques designed to calm your mind and reduce feelings of nervousness. They involve taking slow, deep breaths to help manage stressors and improve mental health.

How do I perform a short breathing exercise to calm down?

To do a short breathing exercise, start by sitting or standing in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a moment, then exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat this process several times until you feel more relaxed.

Can breathing exercises really help with my anxiety disorder?

Yes! Regular practice of specific techniques like diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing or rhythmic breathing can significantly lower symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. It can include panic attacks and social anxiety.

Are there any special types of breathing exercises for severe anxiety?

For those experiencing severe anxiety or PTSD, Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is highly recommended. This method helps balance the nervous system and promotes a sense of peace.

What if I have trouble sleeping because of my worries? Is there a particular technique that could help?

Pursed-lips breathing is especially beneficial before bedtime if you’re having trouble sleeping due to worry or fear. It helps slow down your heartbeat and encourages relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

Besides practicing these exercises on my own, where else can I learn about them?

Many resources are available online – from guided meditation apps available in Google Play stores to websites like Talkspace offering advice from medical professionals and psychotherapists trained in mental health care standards.


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