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Release Tension With Stress Relief Breathing


Updated August 16, 2014

John Lund/ Getty Images

Breathing exercises are an ideal way to relieve stress in that they’re fast, simple, free, and can be performed by just about anyone. They can also be done anywhere and at virtually any time. These factors make stress relief breathing exercises one of my most popular and convenient tension tamers. Here’s how basic controlled breathing works:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: You decide!

Here's How:

  1. Sit or stand in a relaxed position.
  2. Slowly inhale through your nose, counting to five in your head.
  3. Let the air out from your mouth, counting to eight in your head as it leaves your lungs. Repeat several times. That’s it!


  1. As you breathe, let your abdomen expand outward, rather than raising your shoulders. This is a more relaxed and natural way to breathe, and helps your lungs fill themselves more fully with fresh air, releasing more “stale” air.
  2. You can do this just a few times to release tension, or for several minutes as a form of meditation.
  3. If you like, you can make your throat a little tighter as you exhale so the air comes out like a whisper. This type of breathing is used in some forms of yoga and can add additional tension relief.
  4. Learn more about stress and stress management with these ongoing stress management resources.

What You Need:

  • A few seconds or minutes.
  • A minimal amount of attention.

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