How Deep Breathing Can Help Mental Well-Being

We all have access to one of the simplest and most effective tools to help us to manage our mental well-being.  In times of anxiety or stress, breathing deeply will slow down your heart rate and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol; inducing feelings of calm and relaxation in your mind and body. 

The relaxing, transformative power of the breath is the reason it forms the basis of many meditation and relaxation practices including mindfulness, yoga and tai chi.

Simple Ways To Use Your Breath For Mental Well-Being.

 Relaxation:  If you are feeling stressed and your mind is caught up in a cycle of negative thoughts, bring the focus to your breathing and slow it right down. This will help to calm and relax your mind, so that you feel better able to cope and find a way forward.

  Try this simple breathing technique.


Sit or Stand comfortably and close your eyes

Breath in while counting to four.

Hold your breath for a count of four.

Slowly exhale for a count of four

Repeat up to 5 times, until you feel your body relaxing.


Don’t worry if you get distracted and your thoughts begin to take over again, each time, gently bring your attention back to your breath.  The more you practice this the easier it will become.

“Practice Makes Perfect”

Sleep Better:  Breathing techniques can also help with insomnia, if you are lying in bed and having difficulty falling asleep, concentrate on breathing in and out slowly and deeply to help your mind stop overthinking and your body to relax, this will help to induce sleep.  If you are having trouble falling to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, try this breathing exercise to help you to relax.


As you lie in bed, place one hand on your chest and one hand on on your belly

Breathe in slowly through your nose. Feel the hand on your belly rising, the hand on your chest does not move.

Slowly blow the breath out through pursed lips.

Repeat for as long as you need to.

Mindfulness:  Bringing attention to your breath will make you more mindful of the present moment, so you can savour and enjoy good things when they happen. Taking time to do this will help you to better absorb the positive feelings, so that you can recall them when you need to. 

To understand how beneficial deep breathing can be, think about the difference in how you breathe, when you are rushing around feeling tense and stressed; shallow and in your chest, in comparison to how you breathe, when you are sitting or lying down comfortably and at ease, deep and down right down in your belly.

Regular practice of deep breathing techniques will help you to remember to use them when  you need them most.

Some Further Breathing Exercises To Try


This exercise can be done, standing, sitting or lying down.

Use the Belly breathing technique.

Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.

Breathe in deeply through your nose, keep filling your belly with air for the count of four.

Then hold your breath for a count of 7. (this may take some practice).

Finally breathe out for a count of eight.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Hold the right thumb over the right nostril and breathe in deeply through the left nostril.

When you have taken a full breath in, block the left nostril with the ring finger and breath out deeply through the right nostril.

Next breathe in deeply through the right nostril, then hold the right nostril and breath out through the left nostril.

This is an energising breath not to be done at night time.


Remember to Breathe Deeply Everyday

Spend some time practicing the different forms of breathing, choose the ones that are most helpful for you and practice them regularly.

Don’t worry if you start to feel anxious or stressed but can’t remember specific techniques, just breathe in and out slowly and deeply, making the exhalation longer than the inhalation and you will quickly begin to feel yourself relax.

While breathing exercises will not get rid of your problems, they are valuable tool in helping you to cope better with the ups and downs of daily life.

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