How to use breathing to relax

how to relax


If you are experiencing high amounts of stress it might be hard to relax your mind and body, however, there are many different methods that can help people relax.

What works for one person may will not necessarily work for you but there is a technique that you can use anywhere and anytime. It takes practice; but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to increase your relaxation quickly and easily.


Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing allows you to take normal breaths while maximising the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. It is a way of interrupting the ‘fight or flight’ response and triggering the body's normal relaxation response.

Before you practice diaphragmatic breathing rate your level of relaxation right now:

Not at all   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Very

Relaxed ______________________________ Relaxed


Diaphragmatic breathing exercise

Try the diaphragmatic breathing exercise to check your ability to move the diaphragm. Put your hands on your body as in the picture below. Your upper hand should be on your upper chest and your other hand on your belly. Try to push out your lower hand as you breathe in.

Can you breathe using your belly only? Only your belly should move, your rib cage, shoulders and upper hand should stay still. Sometimes it helps to practice while looking in the mirror so you can see that the correct parts of your body are moving and your chest and shoulders are still.

illustration of diaphragmatic breathing


It takes practice to get the breathing right.

After practicing diaphragmatic breathing for a few minutes rate your level of relaxation again:

Not at all   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Very

Relaxed ______________________________ Relaxed


There are many other ways you can effectively relax. Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to learn more on 1800 629 277 or

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