5 Breathing Techniques For Instant Calm

We have curated a list of easy-to-do breathing exercises to de-stress and calm you. Take a look

By Ameya Arora
24 Jun 2022

A 2017 study published in the Frontiers in Psychology showed that breathing practices are effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Performing breathing exercises for just 1 day has been found to relieve the emotional exhaustion caused by job burnout, reported another 2011 study published in the Psychiatric Services.


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Now, you must be wondering “I already breathe all the time, what difference does this make?” Research shows that different emotions are attached to different techniques of breathing, and so changing how you breathe can change how you feel. For instance, when you are feeling calm, your breathing is regular and slow. And when you are feeling angry, your breathing will be short and fast.


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We searched for the best trending breathing exercises that are easy-to-do and require minimal effort to execute. Take a look:


1. Square Breathing

Also known as ‘Box breathing’, this is a wonderful technique to slow down your breath and calm your mind. It soothes stress and eases anxiety by drawing attention to your breath. Count to 4 while breathing, then gently holding your breathing for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 4 seconds.


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2. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Author of the book ‘How To Be Deeply Present In An Un-recent World’, Cory Muscara beautifully demonstrates the 4-7-8 breath, which involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. It is a variation of Pranayama and is great for settling down for sleep and releasing tension that gets accumulated in the body over the course of hectic daily life.


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3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nasal, or alternate breathing, is also referred to as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Yoga showed that practicing Pranayama, fast or slow, can significantly reduce stress levels. Begin by sitting with your legs crossed and back straight. Place your left hand on your knee, and raise your right hand to place the right-hand thumb on the right side of your nose. Exhale fully, and then close the nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, and then close your left nostril with your ring finger. Open your right nostril and exhale through it. Now inhale through the right nostril, and then close it with your thumb. Exhale with your left nostril, and that’s one cycle. Continue this rotation for as long as you feel comfortable.


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4. Belly Breathing

Belly Breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. To perform belly breathing exercise, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. This time as you inhale, your belly fills with air and expands, and when you exhale, your belly shrinks. Make sure your chest does not move when your belly expands or contracts.


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5. Cleansing Breath or Deep Breathing

This is the simplest one to learn, and most of us even perform it from time to time. It involves taking a long and deep inhale through the nose, and an equally long and slow exhale out of the mouth. It slows down your heart rate, allows your body to take more oxygen, and ultimately signals the brain to relax. A study published in the Neurological Sciences shows that it also helps in balancing your hormones, lowering cortisol levels, and increasing the endorphin rush in the body.


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