How Proper Breathing Can Contribute to Stress Reduction

A familiar feeling people feel is stress. Our health can be at risk when we worry too much, causing a lot of tension in our bodies as well. Although stress is a normal reaction to life, it is vital to have a stress-reduction technique to keep your health in good condition.


What is stress?

According to, stress comes from a situation that triggers a biological response. It is an emotional or physical tension caused by feeling nervous, frustrated, or angry. Generally, your body should relax after this feeling occurs. Too much stress may cause harmful effects on your body and overall health.

There are several types of stress, as stated below:


#1 Acute Stress

According to, acute stress is the body's immediate response to a new and challenging situation. It is the most common form of stress and the least dangerous type as it does not usually cause any harm. Acute stress may even be useful for you as situations that cause stress give your body and brain practice in developing the proper response to possible stressful situations in the future.

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a different story. This is developed from a possible traumatic event, that is either witnessed, experienced, or confronted by the person with the situation. This occurs within one month of the traumatic event and is commonly seen in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


#2 Episodic Acute Stress

This occurs when a person has frequent episodes of acute stress. states that this might happen when you are often anxious and worried about the things you feel may happen. This can affect your physical health and mental well-being.


#3 Chronic Stress

Chronic stress occurs when you have high-stress levels that extend for a long period. This can affect your health negatively if it isn't treated. According to Verywell Mind, an online mental health guidance blog, most people can handle acute stress, which is short-lived but is not built for chronic stress, that occurs for an extended period. Experiencing chronic stress, on the other hand, is not something a lot of us can handle.


What causes stress?

There are a lot of factors as to why people get stressed. According to, a platform that provides mental health advice and support, the reasons for being stressed includes:

  • Facing big changes
  • being under a lot of pressure
  • worrying on something
  • not having any or much control over the outcome in a situation
  • having responsibilities that you feel are overwhelming
  • not having enough activities, work, or change in your life
  • times of uncertainty.


Although stress is associated with a negative thing, there is also a positive type of stress, more commonly known as  "eustress." It is defined as a moderate or regular feeling of stress generated as beneficial for a person's experience that makes them feel excited about life. Examples of these are:

  • watching a scary movie
  • the excitement felt on a roller-coaster ride
  • new job
  • fun challenges
  • other exciting first experiences


What are the effects of stress?

Stress is a natural response to life’s experiences. Stress may help you in difficult situations. It releases hormones in your body that increase your breathing and heart rate. This, in return, makes your muscles ready to respond in the given situation.

But as your stress continues to impact your health, there are potential issues that may occur. Symptoms of these include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • headaches


Other effects of stress in the body are:

  • Rapid breathing. The muscles that help you breathe tense up when you are stressed, causing short breaths.


  • Heartburn. According to, stress increases stomach acid production that could lead to heartburn or make it worse.


  • Pounding Heart. Your heart may pump faster when stressed so that blood can quickly reach your limbs and vital organs.


  • High Blood Sugar. Stress causes the liver to release glucose into your bloodstream. This occurs over time and puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes.


  • High Blood Pressure. When under stress, your blood vessels tighten because of the stress hormones, raising your blood pressure.


How to Reduce Stress?

Too much stress is not suitable for anyone as it causes implications for your health, as stated above. Stress reduction is important, as it helps you keep a clear head and a calm mind during stressful situations. One of the best-known ways in reducing stress is performing breathing exercises, as the way you breathe affects your whole body. It helps in reducing tension and relieving stress.


The most known form is taking deep breaths. This is because taking a deep breath sends a signal to the mind to relax and calm down, and in return, sends the signal throughout the parts of your body. The effects that happen when you are under stress, such as fast breathing, high blood pressure, or increased heart rate, can be decreased when you take deep breaths.


Most breathing exercises are not complicated and can be learned easily. This can be done anytime and anywhere you want, so it would not hinder you from your day-to-day activities.


There are a couple of proper breathing techniques to help in stress reduction:

#1 Lengthen your exhale

Although taking deep breaths can help, it may not always calm you down. states that taking a deep breath is linked to the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the fight-or-flight response. On the other hand, exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for making your body relax and calm down.


Taking too many deep breaths in a short time may cause hyperventilation. Here are a few steps listed by in helping a proper breathing exercise for stress reduction:

  1. Try taking a thorough exhale before trying to take a deep breath. Push all the air out, and let the lungs do their work in inhaling air.
  2. Next is trying to exhale a little bit longer than inhaling. 
  3. Do this simple exercise for two to five minutes.

This can be done in any comfortable position, whether standing up, sitting, or lying down.


#2 Belly breathing

Belly breathing is a relaxing and easy breathing exercise. Try these necessary steps to practice stress reduction:

  1. Lie or sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Put a hand on your belly (positioned just below the ribs) and the other hand on the chest.
  3. Take deep breaths through the nose, and allow the belly to push your hand out. Your chest should not move as this happens.
  4. Purse your lips (in a form as if whistling) and exhale through your mouth. Try engaging the muscle of your stomach to push air out at the end of every breath.

Try doing this breathing for three to ten minutes. Take your time with every breath you take.


Proper breathing is an important part of stress reduction, as it calms the mind and body from the tension these stress hormones are producing. Aside from breathing exercises, there are other ways for you to calm down and relax. Some ways for this are lighting scented candles to have a soothing feeling. Another would be to write down what you are stressed about and jotting down things you are grateful for. Being grateful may help in stress reduction as it focuses your thoughts on a more positive outlook on life.



Stress can bring a negative impact on your life. From all the negativity you have been experiencing, it is great to stop for a moment and breathe, spend time with those you love, laugh, and practice mindfulness to improve your health and overall work-life as well.