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Deep Breathing Exercises



  • Deep breathing has many benefits.
  • Deep breathing exercises can be used when you feel stressed or anxious.
  • Deep breathing exercises are useful before medical tests and procedures.

Do you ever just need a minute to yourself so you can relax? Do you ever let out a big sigh after experiencing some stress or anxiety? Do you ever notice how your breathing is fast when you're nervous right before or during a test? If you answered yes to any of these questions you might want to try deep breathing exercises to help you relax. Read on to learn more about deep breathing and about the positive affects it can have on your body.


What are deep breathing exercises?

Deep breathing is a type of exercise that makes you aware of your breathing so when you inhale (take in air) through your nose, the breath is long and slow so and the air completely fills your lungs. The second part of the exercise is to blow out all of the air from your lungs, nice and slow. You should see your lower belly rise when you breathe in and lower when you breathe out.


What affects breathing?

Stress, anxiety, anger, fear and other emotions can cause your breathing to become faster than normal. When you are happy and content your breathing is slower, and more regular.


How can deep breathing exercises help me?

Deep breathing can help you relax, decrease anxiety, improve coping skills and even help to lower your blood pressure.


When should I use deep breathing exercises?

Deep breathing exercises can be used when you feel stressed, anxious, or you're in any situation where you need to slow down and feel in control. For example: if you're anxious before a test at school, deep breathing is a great tool to use to help you relax and focus. Even if you feel stressed in the middle of a tough day, taking a few deep breaths will help you feel relaxed and calm.


Deep breathing can also be useful before any medical tests or procedures, such as when you have your blood drawn. Deep breathing gives you a feeling of peace and is an easy skill to learn and use whenever you feel anxious or tense.


Who can teach me about deep breathing exercises?

Many different types of health care providers can talk to you about deep breathing exercises including nurses, health care providers, social workers, and psychologists. Deep breathing is often connected with yoga and meditation so teachers who are trained in these activities can also show you how to do it.


I don't have a lot of free time, is deep breathing exercise something I can do on my own?

Yes! You can use deep breathing exercises anytime for as long or short as you want. Unlike other forms of exercise you don't need any equipment, and it's free!


How do I do deep breathing exercises?

Something simple to do is: Close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine yourself on a beach or another place you find relaxing. Then, take a deep breath through your nose and count to ten. Release the breath through your mouth until you have pushed all the air out. Then repeat the exercise.


Important things to remember when practicing deep breathing exercises:

Deep breathing is a practice that has many benefits. It is often combined with yoga, meditation, guided imagery and other relaxation techniques for even more positive results. Try an activity that you think you might enjoy. Learning ways to relax will help you to become more in tune with your body so you can respond to stress in a healthy way.


Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 5/3/2012


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