Can Breathing Differently Reduce Stress?

In the course of my practice, more often than not, I encounter individuals who are either stressed or prone to experiencing periods of anxiety. Both these situations take away from the quality of our lives, in addition to reducing our effectiveness in most functional situations. Further, feelings such as happiness, contentment and joy, among others, tend to be reduced or elusive. What can we do in such circumstances? First, finding and resolving the source of the stress is a good idea. If you need help with the process, go ahead and schedule a free, exploratory session here. Second, I’m going to go ahead and share a simple technique that should be helpful to many of us, when we feel stressed or anxious.

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What Is Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Diaphragmatic (dia-fra-matic) breathing is a type of slow and deep breathing, during which we consciously utilize the diaphragm, which results in close to 100% utilization of lung capacity. Breathing in this manner has impacts the brain and cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. This impact is said to happen through the modulation of autonomic nervous functions.

The Benefits Of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic has a range of benefits for practitioners.

  • Improved capacity to exercise
  • Reduction in physiological and psychological stress
  • Reduced stress hormone (cortisol) levels
  • Possible improvement in respiratory function and respiratory muscle strength
  • May help with eating disorders, constipation, hypertension, migraines and anxiety
  • Helps to increase the quality of life for patients of cancer and GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Increases cardiorespiratory fitness of those with heart failure
  • Increase abilities related to concentration and attention

Since most variants of diaphragmatic breathing can be practiced at almost any location and time, it becomes a good strategy for the (temporary) alleviation of stress and anxiety.

Types Of Diaphragmatic Breathing

There are a number of different types of diaphragmatic breathing, as shown below. Choose the variant that you’re most comfortable with, and which results in a perceptible improvement in your stress or anxiety levels.

  1. Basic Diaphragmatic Breathing
  2. Rib Stretch Breathing
  3. Numbered Breathing
  4. Lower Back Breathing
  5. Box Breathing
  6. 4-7-8 Breathing

The first of the list above is explained below. I’ll write more articles about the rest of the breathing techniques.

How To Perform Basic Diaphragmatic Breathing

The basic process of diaphragmatic breathing is as follows.

  1. Lie down comfortably, face upward.
  2. Beginners can place one hand on their chest, and the other on their tummies.
  3. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose. Aim at 4 to 6 breaths per minute, making a single inhalation and exhalation have a duration between 7.5 and 10 seconds.
  4. Remember to use your diaphragm; expand your belly while breathing.
  5. Keep in mind that your chest must be as still as possible; minimum chest movement.


  1. Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Health: A Narrative Review
  2. The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human
  3. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults

Are you looking for help with your relationships, anger or other emotional issues, weight management and more? Tap here to schedule a free, 30 minute session with Sid Khullar.

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