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What breathing exercise can I do to reduce stress?

Suzanne Steinbaum, DO
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
One of the simplest ways to stop a stress response is with a simple breathing exercise that will slow your heart rate. Watch me demonstrate alternate nostril breathing, and explain why meditation is also key.
Aim for 10 deep breaths in the morning, 10 at night, and as many as you need in between to help relieve stress. Here's how to do them:
  • Lie on your back, flat on the floor, with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Lying on the floor at first when you practice is important, because if you stand up, you're more likely to fake a deep breath by doing an exaggerated chest extension, rather than letting your lungs fill up naturally.
  • Take a deep breath in—slowly.
  • Imagine your lungs filling up with air; it should take about 5 seconds to inhale. As your diaphragm pulls down your chest cavity, your belly button should move away from your spine as your lungs fill with air. Your chest may also widen and rise ever so slightly as you inhale.
  • When your lungs feel full, exhale slowly—taking about 7 seconds to let all the air out.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.