Stressbuster: The power of breathing

Young Woman Breathing © Galina Barskaya

Breathing is not only a very necessary and primary source of life (there’s the oxygen, circulation, and physiological thing), but it’s a powerful way to rid one’s self of emotional stress.

According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, stress is an unavoidable part of life. While it may be useful when we need that rush of adrenaline to get through some of life’s everyday challenges, too much of it is certainly not a good thing. When stress gets to be too much, it can be dangerous.

Stress can be perceived as good or bad.  It may be caused by a variety of things, including…

  • Changes at home, school or work
  • Loss of income, growth of financial debt, etc.
  • Illness or injury
  • Changes in the family structure (e.g., birth of a new child, loss of a pet, etc.)
  • Lifestyle changes (e.g., retirement, etc.)

One way to deal with stress (and anxiety that occasionally follows) is to take a few minutes of each day and remember to just breathe.  Here’s a simple technique to try:

  1. Find a safe place such as a quiet corner of a room or other place away from loud or distracting noises (when possible).
  2. Close your eyes, if safe. If not comfortable with closing your eyes, focus on something soothing in the environment you’re in.
  3. Slowly: Inhale; breathe in through your nose; count to 3 or 5 if medically/emotionally safe.
  4. Slowly: Exhale; blow air out through your mouth; count to 3 or 5 if medically/emotionally safe.
  5. Imagine that you are in your favorite place, reading your favorite book, eating your favorite meal, holding your favorite person, or some other positive thought.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 (above) five-seven times.


Breathing through your nose helps prevent hyperventilation, is good for the lungs, nostrils, helps the heart, and overall emotional health.

For a visual and auditory experience, follow the link to view the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center “TIPS – Deep breathing exercise (companion to anxiety video).”



If you are someone you know is seeking ideas or help related to stress, anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, muscular tension, suicidal thoughts, etc., contact a physician or other trusted professional.  For a few resources, click here to visit the Resource Page.

Backstory:  Some content published in my original SLHLE article of Jul. 17, 2010.

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