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  • Jessie Hebert

The Basics of Belly Breathing

Updated: Jan 11

When we are anxious or stressed, our breathing rate increases and our breaths become shallower, since our body is preparing for danger. However, if there is no real physical danger, this change in breathing can make us feel even more anxious. Practicing deep breathing exercises such as belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) can help fight anxiety by letting your brain know that it's safe to relax. Here are the basic steps of belly breathing:


Some people can start to feel anxious, out of breath or dizzy after trying deep breathing if the technique doesn't work for them. If you start to feel anxious, out of breath, or dizzy, stop the exercise immediately. If necessary, seek support.


Belly Breathing

1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position that you can remain in for a few minutes. If you get uncomfortable at any point during this exercise, feel free to readjust.

2. Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly just below your ribs.

3. Take in a deep breath of air through your nose, and as your lungs fill up with air, let your belly push your hand outwards. Ensure that your belly is extending instead of your chest as you inhale. Inhale until you feel that your lungs are full of air.

4. Breathe out through your mouth, and feel the hand on your belly moving in again as you exhale. Ensure that your belly is moving instead of your chest. Exhale until you feel that you've let all of the air out of your lungs.

5. Repeat the steps above 5-10 times, or as many times you'd like until you feel more calm. Notice how you feel and what has changed after completing the exercise.


Once you've practiced basic belly breathing a few times, you can try more advanced breathing exercises if you'd like. Here is another deep breathing exercise for you to try:


Square Breathing

1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. If you get uncomfortable at any point during this exercise, feel free to readjust.

2. Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly just below your ribs.

3. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four, so that you feel like you've emptied your lungs. Ensure that the hand on your belly is moving inwards as you exhale.

4. Hold your breath for a count of four.

5. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four, so that you feel like your lungs are full of air. Ensure that your belly is pushing your hand outwards as you inhale.

6. Hold your breath for a count of four.

7. Repeat this cycle, starting again with exhaling to a count of four. Repeat 5-10 times or as many times as you'd like until you feel more calm.


To learn more about belly breathing and find other breathing exercises to try, click here.


In the darkest times, hope is the best gift you can give yourself.

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Note: The suggestions posted here are not meant to be a replacement for medical support and advice, but rather are meant to guide you towards resources to learn more. If you have concerns about your health, please consult a medical professional. 

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