Breathing and relaxation exercises for stressSee all parts of this guide Hide guide parts
Calming breathing exercise
There are a lot of breathing and relaxation exercises you can do to relieve stress and relax your body and mind. The ones in this guide are simple and can be done at home, at work or out and about. For some of them it helps to lie down, or sit, but they will still work if you aren't able to do those things.
Over time, these exercises can become something you do automatically, whenever you feel tense or stressed. This can help you become more relaxed in general.
This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine.
You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor.
Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
If you're lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
If you're sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you're in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five. You may not be able to reach five at first
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again, if you find this helpful
- Keep doing this for three to five minutes
Steps to deal with stress: a simple guide to stressing less and enjoying life more
For more help dealing with stress, this leaflet is full of useful advice for reducing stress and staying relaxed. Click below to download it to your device.
Audio breathing and relaxation playlist
This playlist is designed to help you get started with controlling stress, and understand where it comes from. If you haven't heard it before, listen to the first two tracks – Getting Started and Understanding Stress – then move on to the exercises. This will make sure you get the most out of the exercises, and understand why and how they work for you.
You can download this playlist to listen to it anywhere, or stream it using this page, the Soundcloud website, or the Soundcloud app. You can also download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you.
Steps for Stress
BSL breathing and relaxation playlist
This BSL playlist is designed for managing stress, and understanding where it comes from. If this is the first time you're watching it, watch the first two videos – Getting Started and Understanding Stress – then move on to the exercises. This will make sure you get the most out of the exercises, and understand why and how they work for you.
You can also watch this playlist and the individual videos on the YouTube site and app.
Steps for Stress BSL | Getting Started (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0wsSw-W7OA)
The exercises on this video are designed to help you recognise when you feel stressed and help you regain control of your own feelings and thoughts.
Steps for Stress BSL | Understanding Stress (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPQBAjUYdes)
When you're stressed, it affects the body in two ways. Firstly, your muscles tense, leading to tight chest, or pain at the back of the neck, or odd aches and pains. Secondly, your body speeds up, your heart races, you feel breathless, or break out in a sweat. Follow the exercises for different ways and techniques to help you to relax.
Steps for Stress BSL | Exercise: Deep relaxation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrYm-svnBFA)
This exercise will guide you through steps for deep relaxation techniques.
Steps for Stress BSL | Exercise: Quick relaxation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZhKx-zNYEk)
This exercise will guide you through steps for quick relaxation techniques.
Steps for Stress BSL | Exercise: Belly breathing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C13Gw4XFfs0)
This exercise will guide you through steps for a simple, quick way to relax.
More breathing and relaxation videos
For more help with stress, these videos contain exercises that you can do anywhere, including your own home. They are designed to help you relax and stay calm, even when you are feeling stressed, by using breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
You don't have to do these exercises in any order, and it's okay to do just one or two if you like. The videos can also be watched on the YouTube site and app.
Steps for Stress | Breathing Exercise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYTZwBzjNC0)
Dr Alastair Dobbin and Deborah demonstrate a simple breathing exercise that's surprisingly effective in helping you become calm and relaxed. You can do it anytime: in bed to help you sleep, while watching TV, at work... just practice for a couple of minutes twice a day, and you'll soon feel the benefits.
Steps for Stress | Muscle relaxation exercise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjP9UGWxTLM)
Sheila Ross demonstrates a muscle relaxation exercise with Stewart.
Steps for Stress | Relaxation exercise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuEcLeNQe2Q)
Dr Alastair Dobbin demonstrates a relaxation technique, with help from Lesley.
17 May 2022
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