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Using Your Breath to Calm Mind & Body

Taking a moment to focus on your breathing is a great way to counteract the amygdala response (the fight, flight or freeze response) in the brain. When we are triggered by stress, fear, or anxiety, the amygdala response is activated. A sure-fire way to reduce stress and experience an overall sense of calm is to use focused-breathing techniques.

Here are some deep breathing techniques to help in those tricky situations:

Belly Breathing

This is a simple yet effective way to achieve mindfulness of your breath. Simply lie down on your bed or the floor and place one hand on your abdomen. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and feel your belly lift your hand up. As you exhale through your mouth, feel your hand go back down as your belly sinks. Repeat this 3-10 times, taking your time with each breath.

4-2-8 Breathing

This is a great method to help you fall asleep. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath in for 2 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat as needed.

Morning Breathing

Doing this yoga-like exercise when you first wake up is a great way to clear your respiratory tract and relieve stiff muscles. Start in a standing position. With your knees slightly bent, hinge at the waist and bend forward, allowing your arms to dangle. Inhale deeply and roll your body up slowly. When you return to the standing position, hold your breath. Exhale slowly as you bend forward again. Repeat as needed, paying close attention to the connection between your breath and your movement.

Mantra Breathing

This is a great way to create positivity while working on your breathing. Think of a mantra that applies to your current situation. There are many examples online that can help you get started. A few examples include: “It’s all gonna be okay”, “Today is going to be a great day”; or “I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.” Repeat the mantra to yourself, as you breathe deeply. Repetition is the key to mastery!

Square Breathing

Lastly, this technique involves visualization to take your mindfulness even further. Close your eyes. As you inhale, visualize one side of a square being drawn. As you exhale, visualize the next side being drawn. Continue until you have finished the square, and repeat.

Final Thought: These are just a few of many options for deep breathing techniques. Try them all to see what works best for you, and notice how each technique makes you feel both physically and mentally. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of using your breath to balance the mind-body connection, reach out to Stacy Faulkner, MSW, LCSW, MA, RYT, RMT, a Compass clinician and registered yoga instructor.

If you believe your loved one could benefit from professional support, please contact Compass Social Skills and Counseling, LLC at 774-847-9340 or

Related resources: e-tremendous-health-benefits