Breathing exercises against stress

Lower your stress levels with these tips and exercises!

 Looking for ways to reduce stress?
Want to develop more awareness about your breathing?
 Looking for breathing exercises to sleep better and improve your focus?

Then you have come to the right place on this page! Influencing your breathing is a simple way to reduce stress and activate your parasympathetic nervous system. 

When you feel stressed, your breathing increases and the sympathetic part of your nervous system is activated.

By breathing consciously, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure drops and your body relaxes. We are going to reduce stress in this article using well-known breathing techniques.

Take a deep breath, relax. Let's deliberately pause together with some breathing exercises against stress.

Simple breathing exercises against stress:

Breathing exercise diaphragm

You can do a breathing exercise at any time of the day, whether at work, at home or on the road. If you practise these different breathing exercises regularly, you will find that you are better able to cope with stress. 

Awareness of breathing

Take a few minutes for the sensation below before reading on. Close your eyes and observe:

  • are you breathing fast or slow?
  • Where do you perceive your breathing? High in your chest or low in the belly?
  • Are your breaths complete or is there a blockage somewhere?
  • Does this breathing fit with what you are doing now?

When the nervous system is calm and experiences safety and security, the brainstem can perform its functions properly.

If disruption occurs or there is a potential threat or danger, the body is prepared for action (fight or flight). This releases energy available to the brain and muscles for survival. When this threat is over again, our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing drops to regain calm. This is how it is supposed to happen.

Breathing exercise against stress

OVERlife, along with reproduction, is the most basic need we have as humans.

Evolution has provided us with a genius system, unfortunately since the industrial revolution this has come under great strain as our lives have changed 100% over a few hundred years.  

The brain stem is responsible for instantiating the oldest functions of our body such as blood pressure, heart rhythm and breathing, for example. In addition, this is the centre where all information from the body passes before it gets higher in the brain.

You can compare it to a spam filter. The filter selects what is of interest to let through to other parts of the brain so that they may or may not enter our consciousness. 


What does your breathing say about your condition?

By listening to your breathing, you can observe many things such as:

  • what is really going on in your body
  • what state your nervous system is in.
  • where there is tension
  • where you experience pain
  • whether you experience cold/heat in certain areas
  • ...

These things can be linked to the status of your emotions. You can relearn all this. Like everything you learn, this takes time and, above all, practice. Do the above exercise (breath awareness) daily for 5 to 10 minutes

Reduce stress and improve focus with box breathing

 Originally, this breathing exercise originated in the US military to calm soldiers, often with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Many people among us also have PTSD, conscious or unconscious.

Because of what you have experienced, your brain will overreact to a similar threat (which is sometimes very far from a real threat) every time. In the worst situations, it results in hyperventilation and panic attacks.

Box breathing is a simple but effective technique you can use to regulate your breathing and calm your nervous system.

Breathing exercises against stress

Box breathing exercise

  • Breathe in (2 sec)
  • Hold your breath (2 sec)
  • Breathe out (2 sec)
  • Hold your breath again (2 sec)

Do this for the same period of time each time. Start with 2 seconds in, hold, out and hold & repeat for 10 minutes. The important thing is that it is achievable, the first few rounds you will experience some discomfort after which you will feel peace enter your body. If this goes smoothly you can gradually build up, second by second. Embrace the CO2 back into your body and become more human again!

An inhalation switch between your left nostril and right nostril can also help reduce stress and influence your breathing. This is a traditional breathing exercise widely used in yoga nidra.

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CO2is a panicogenic

CO2 is a panicogenic that is perceived by our brainstem as a threat. Breathing shallowly and rapidly, CO2 accumulates in the bloodstream and sets off alarm bells in the brainstem.

So allowing the CO2 back in and learning to tolerate it is a very important step in calming down in the short term but also reducing the intense reactions in the longer term.

Fall asleep quickly with 4-7-8 breathing

Breathing exercises against stress

"A natural relaxant for the nervous system"

Dr Weil, an Austrian doctor, refers to this exercise as "a natural relaxant for the nervous system". This makes it a very effective exercise for calming down and catching sleep.

As we hold the breath for a longer time and exhale very slowly, our cells are given time to replenish the amount of oxygen. This is because CO2 will rise slightly during this breathing exercise. Because the breathing through this exercise calmly becomes, your nervous system also calms down.

4-7-8 breathing exercise

Inhale deeply for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and release for 8 seconds. Repeat up to 15x, although counting is not necessary at all.

When exhaling, keep the lips pursed so you have more control over the amount of air you blow out, do this only if you fail to stretch your exhalation to 8 seconds.

What does LSD stand for?

Breathing exercises against stress

LSD breathing for focus and concentration


Breathe lightly. Put your index finger right under your nose, breathing in and out as gently as possible so that you feel NO wind moving against your finger.

After 1 minute, more oxygen is already 50% entering your brain. This is calm breathing.


Breathe in slowly for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds

Learn to tolerate CO2 in your blood, this feels uncomfortable at first but if you persevere and practise often you will experience all the benefits such as slower breathing, better circulation, better recovery, deeper sleep and peace in your mind. When breathing slows down, we feel more peace in our system.


Breathe deeply and low into the abdomen, when inhaling make the abdomen as thick as possible.

Learn to use your respiratory muscle, the diaphragm, correctly, thus stimulating your Vagus nerve which will increase your parasympathetic activity and give you peace of mind and body. Breathe deeply with each inhalation.

Combi; now combine the above 3 exercise for best results!

Tips to sleep better

  • Maintain a constant sleep-wake rhythm
  • Avoid blue light 2h before sleeping
  • Use blue light blocking glasses if you still use a TV, mobile phone or laptop in the evening
  • Make sure the bedroom is cool (ideally 15 degrees)
  • Take a hot shower just before sleeping
  • Stop eating 3h before bedtime
  • Take a walk after dinner
Breathing exercise against stress

Right nostril and left nostril

Several studies show that when we breathe through one nostril, the activity of the autonomic nervous system is affected. This is also known as the "nasal cycle", in which the dominance of one nostril over the other changes periodically throughout the day.


right nostril = activation

Breathing through the right nostril increases sympathetic activity. This is associated with increased activity in brain regions related to attention, alertness and cognitive performance.

left nostril = relaxation

Breathing through the left nostril enhances parasympathetic activity. 

A study published in the journal "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience" showed that breathing through the left nostril was associated with increased activity in brain regions related to positive emotions, relaxation and self-regulation. 

Want to know more about breathing? Read our blogs

Others' experience with breathing exercises

Read some testimonials here ➭

Breathing exercise against stress

Breathing exercises are a powerful tool to reduce stress and help you relax. By consciously pausing and taking deep breaths, you influence your breathing and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. There are different types of breathing exercises, including classical breathing exercises, yoga exercises and traditional breathing techniques such as alternating the inhalation between the right and left nostrils. With practical tips and simple breathing exercises, you will learn how to use your breathing to clear your head. For example, visualise your breath flowing all the way to your feet with each exhalation.