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5 Breathing Exercises to Help Manage Anxiety

Anxiety can be overwhelming, but the power to calm your mind and body is often right under your nose—literally. Breathing exercises are an effective way to reduce anxiety and bring a sense of calm. Here are five easy-to-follow breathing techniques to help you manage anxiety whenever it strikes.

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, engages the diaphragm rather than the chest, promoting deeper and more efficient breathing.


  1. Find a Comfortable Position: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

  2. Place Your Hands: Put one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.

  3. Inhale Deeply: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise while keeping your chest relatively still.

  4. Exhale Slowly: Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall.

  5. Repeat: Continue this process focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen.

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a simple technique that involves breathing in a four-step pattern.


  1. Inhale: Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4.

  2. Hold: Hold your breath for a count of 4.

  3. Exhale: Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 4.

  4. Hold: Hold your breath again for a count of 4.

  5. Repeat: Continue this cycle maintaining the rhythm.

3. 4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is designed to relax the body and mind quickly, making it a great tool for managing anxiety.


  1. Inhale: Close your eyes and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of 4.

  2. Hold: Hold your breath for a count of 7.

  3. Exhale: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for a count of 8.

  4. Repeat: Repeat this cycle 4 times, gradually increasing as you become more comfortable with the technique.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, promoting calm and focus.


  1. Position Your Fingers: Sit comfortably and place your right thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger on your left nostril.

  2. Close Right Nostril: Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril.

  3. Switch: Close your left nostril with your ring finger and release your right nostril.

  4. Exhale: Exhale slowly through your right nostril.

  5. Repeat: Inhale through your right nostril, close it with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. Continue alternating.

5. Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing helps slow your breathing pace, making each breath more effective.


  1. Inhale Slowly: Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 2, keeping your mouth closed.

  2. Purse Your Lips: Pucker or purse your lips as if you are about to blow out a candle.

  3. Exhale Slowly: Exhale gently and slowly through your pursed lips for a count of 4.

  4. Repeat: Continue this pattern focusing on the prolonged exhale.


Incorporating these breathing exercises into your daily routine can significantly help manage anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Remember, consistency is key—practice these techniques regularly to experience the best results. Whenever you feel anxiety creeping in, take a moment to breathe and bring yourself back to a state of tranquility.


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