Relaxation Technique for Stress: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

When we are feeling stress or anxious, we tend to engage in shallow breathing (also known as chest breathing). Our body engages in shallow breathing (short breaths at a fast rate) as its aim is to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to our body, preparing us to either ‘fight or flight’ situations we perceived as stressful or anxious.


Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercise is a relaxation technique that helps to signal our body that it is safe to relax. This exercise helps us to achieve slower and deeper breathing (which breathing in all the way down to our diaphragm/stomach area).

How to do Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing for stress or anxiety

Watch the video on Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing by Michigan Medicine

Place yourself in a comfortable sitting or lying position. You may close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so.

Breathe in through the nose, and breathe out through the mouth.

Placed one hand on your chest and another hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, the hand on your chest should remain still while the hand on your stomach will move. This hand will rise as you breathe in and flatten as you breathe out

Breathe in 4 counts, pause for 3 counts and breathe out 4 counts.

After each cycle of (4-3-4), breath normally for a while before restarting the cycle again It is recommended that you practise this exercise twice daily (15 cycles for each practice).

If you noticed that you are still engaging in shallow breathing (where your chest is moving), you can practise the deep diaphragmatic breathing exercise in a lying position with your back on the floor, yoga mat or bed.


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