Mindful Breathing Exercise for When You’re Feeling Stressed and Anxious

When you feel stressed or anxious, have you been mindful of your breathing?

Notice if you’re holding your breath, taking shallow breaths, or breathing too quickly.

Take control of your breathing by trying a short breathing exercise

Lay, sit, or stand comfortably, with good posture to allow yourself to breathe easily.

If you’re laying or sitting, maybe you want to close your eyes to increase focus.

You may place your hands gently on your stomach to physically feel it move in and out as you breathe.

Take note of physical sensations and then focus on your breathe.

If you find yourself becoming distracted by anything, acknowledge the distraction (distractions occur naturally and are reminders to return to what we were working on), allow it to roll through your awareness, and then simply return your attention to your breathing.

Breathe in for 3 seconds: 1-2-3

Brief pause

Breathe out for 3 seconds: 1-2-3

Repeat 3 times

Notice any differences in how you physically or mentally feel.

Calmly return your focus to the environment around you.

You may want to play around with the timing of the breathing, like breathing out for four seconds vs three. Some goals are to regulate your nervous system, feel more in-tune with your body, and to increase being present. Take your time and practice.

*Tip for severe anxiety and panic: if you find yourself holding your breath for longer than the brief pause during this exercise, skip the pause all together and just focus on appropriate, steady in-and-out breathes.*

Download this exercise below.

Deep breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization

15 Minute Deep Breathing Exercise | City of Hope (YouTube)

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Additional resources



ANXIETY AND MANAGEMENT – There are a ton of resources here.

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