Using Your Breath for Stress Relief

This is the final Monday of my Stress-free September series. This morning I led a meditation where we talked about using your breath for stress relief. It is an excellent tool for grounding you in the moment and relieving stress in the body. You can listen here:

What happens in the body when you feel stress?

A hormonal cascade is activated which results in the production of cortisol and adrenaline. These act on the body to increase your respiratory rate (and more). 

(Graphic Courtesy of

One way to counteract this rapid breathing and its ill effects is to be more present with your breathing in times when you feel stress.

I have previously written about 2 breathing techniques that may be helpful:

4-7-8 breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Another useful technique is prolonging your exhale compared to your inhale. So for instance: breath in to the count of 4, then extend your exhale to the count of 8.  Extending the exhalation triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system involved in calming the body…decreasing your respiratory rate and slowing your heart rate. 

By prolonging your exhale, you send a message to the brain to calm down and relax. You can therefore disrupt the hormonal cascade that is resulting in the physiological effects of stress.

The next time you feel stressed, I hope using your breath for stress relief is at the forefront of your mind.

Conscious breathing with awareness and intent dissolves your stress.