5 Breathing Techniques to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Everyone is entitled to a “bad” day every now and then. It could be blamed on the occasional manic Monday syndrome. But if your “bad” days start to outnumber your “good” days, there may be an underlying concern that you need to address and resolve.


Anxiety and stress feed off of the other. Stress causes anxiety and anxiety causes stress. It’s this ‘big concept’ within oneself that can wreak havoc on one’s health, life, and wellbeing. It’s a silent killer that doesn’t have to exist.



Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand, good or bad. It could be triggered by a situation occurring, by someone else, or by any other circumstances that may affect someone in a negative way.

Anxiety is the feeling of fear, nervousness, apprehension, or panic from situations in life. Behavioral patterns could eventually result in an anxiety disorder. This is defined as a medical condition derived by persistent and excessive worrying in numerous forms. This condition can become so distressing that it can interfere with one’s ability to enjoy daily life.


Everyone experiences and deals with stressful situations differently. What is stressful to one may not be to someone else. Therefore, it is really difficult to say what may affect everyone as a whole. There are so many triggers that result in what causes anxiety and stress. Perhaps these examples may resonate with you…

  • Financial situations
  • Relationships
  • Work situations
  • Family
  • Obligations
  • Deadlines
  • Monthly cramp
  • Illnesses



  • Low energy
  • Emotional breakdowns
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings or lack of appetite
  • Bleeding gums
  • Grinding teeth
  • Frequent colds, infections, and flu-like symptoms
  • Aches, pains, and susceptible to injuries
  • Chest pain and increased heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Skin conditions (blisters, hives, rashes, acne, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema)
  • Sensitive to temperatures (sweating, freezing)
  • Loss of desire, ambition, motivation
  • Headaches, faint, or light-headed
  • Dizziness and can trigger vertigo
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and digestive issues
  • Feeling inadequate


Chronic stress and anxiety can play a big part in your overall health and wellbeing. It disrupts nearly every system in your body and can have a damaging effect on your organs. Many health issues can occur and become detrimental to your health if left uncontrolled or treated. Some of these health issues include:

  • Shuts down your immune system
  • Heightened nervous system activity
  • Upsets your digestive system
  • Disrupts your reproductive system
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Speeds up the aging process
  • Creates vulnerability to many mental and physical health problems


Managing stress and anxiety can be done in many ways to accommodate the symptoms from occurring. Simple tasks can help keep the overwhelming feelings at bay. When feeling overwhelmed, try experimenting with these techniques to accommodate stress and prevent unwanted anxiety.

  • Exercise/ Rhythmic Movement (walk, dance, take a class)
  • Shut off your phone
  • Journal/Diary
  • Learn a new trait (ie: cooking, art)
  • Read/ listen to a podcast
  • Socializing with a friend
  • Listen to music
  • Yoga
  • Meditate
  • Aromatherapy (healing oils)
  • Breathing techniques


Breathing techniques are simple yet powerful relaxation methods. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere, and provides a quick relief from heightened anxiety. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen to fill the lungs with fresh air. The more oxygen taken in, the less tension and anxiousness you will feel.


To successfully combat stress, the body’s natural relaxation response needs to be activated. Practicing relaxation techniques stimulates mindfulness while helping your nervous system relax.


Performing consistent breathing techniques have many health benefits. They help you calm down to manage anxiety and stressful situations when they occur. Knowing how to perform some breathing techniques may be your saving grace and immediate self-healer.


Here are a few of my favorite techniques that you can do anywhere. Check out the video to see a demonstration of how to perform these techniques and give it a go!


Rhythmic Movement

Physical activity that engages the entire body in a mindful state. (ie: walking, swimming, biking, running, dancing). As you move, focus on the sensations of how you feel and how your breathing complements your movements. Avoid letting your mind wander into other thoughts. Movement can fuel your soul and enliven your senses.

Nostril Breathing

Restores balance and eases the mind and body. It also improves the ability to focus, supports the lungs and respiratory functions, restores right/ left brain function, clears energetic channels, removes toxins, and settles stress.


If you have too many ‘flames in the fire’ or sense a panic/anxiety beginning to rise, cycle through a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing. It’s excellent to reset your mental state.

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and open heart.
  2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand in front of your face. You will be actively using your thumb and ring finger while the index and middle fingers rest gently on your eyebrows.
  3. Take a deep cleansing breath to begin (inhale & exhale fully).
  4. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slow and steadily.
  5. Close the left nostril with your ring finder so both nostrils are held closed. Retain the breath at the top of the inhale for a moment.
  6. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side. Pause at the bottom of the exhale.
  7. Inhale through the right side slowly.
  8. Hold both nostrils closed with thumb and ring finger.
  9. Open your left nostril and release the breath slowly. Pause at the bottom of the exhale.
  10. Steps d – i represent one complete cycle and should take about 30-40 seconds each round.
  11. Repeat 5-10 cycles (right & left = 1 cycle). Allow your mind to follow the breaths.


* Be consistent to match the length of the inhales, pauses, and exhales by counting to five during each step. You can always adjust the tempo to refine your practice.


Mindful Meditation

The goal is to achieve a start of alert, focused relaxation by paying attention to thoughts, and feeling sensations without judgment.

  • Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or repeat a mantra (saying or phrase). Allow thoughts to pass without judgment while focusing on the breath.
  • Sensations: notice full body sensations and let them pass. (ie: itching, tingling)
  • Sensory: Notice sounds, smells, tastes, touches and let them go with no judgment.
  • Emotions: Allow yourself to feel emotions without judgment. Practice labeling these emotions: “anger”, “frustrated”, “happy”, then let them go.
  • Resist urges: Manage cravings and addictive behaviors. Allow them to pass and replace it with knowledge that will subside.


Visualization Meditation

Involves all senses. It allows you to imagine a peaceful scene where you are free to let go of all tension and anxiety. Choose a scene that is most calming to you. It can be done on your own in silence, with music or by guided imagery from a practitioner.

  • Find a peaceful place to close your eyes and visualize a scene vividly. Notice what you see, smell, taste, and feel. It works best by imagining images that appeal to you most.
  • Enjoy the deep relaxation feeling that develops as you explore your restful place. Come back to the present when ready.


Yoga Movements/ Practice

Yoga not only improves flexibility, strength balance, and stamina but also helps reduce anxiety and stress. To avoid injury, attend group classes or work privately with an instructor to learn yoga efficiently and eventually be able to perform it alone.

  • Any style of yoga may be practiced or enjoyed more than another. If you are unsure which practice to try, hatha yoga may be a suitable one for stress reduction. It’s gentle and slow moving with focus on the breath.
  • Focus on executing slow, steady movements, deep breathing, and gentle stretching to reduce stress.



Incorporating a daily relaxation practice can enhance the quality of your life by keeping stress levels low, remaining calm & grounded, and possess a positive attitude. Meditating and deep breathing is something you can practice anywhere for even a few minutes (driving, walking the dog, taking the stairs, cleaning, etc.) Try to incorporate some type of a relaxation practice into your schedule. Once it becomes part of your daily routine, you will start to see the benefits and feel the calming effects that stress management has to offer.


Thinking about the past by blaming and judging yourself or worrying about the future can generate stress. By staying calm and focused in the present moment, you can bring your nervous system into a balanced state.


The light in me, honors the light in you.









Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. http://www.groovysweat.com http://www.groovysweatstore.com (purchasable workout videos) http://www.youtube.com/groovysweat (workout clips)

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