Why Deep Breathing Alone Doesn’t Reduce In-the-Moment Stress

How to breathe in a way that actually helps during these moments.



8/2/20211 min read

Ever be stressed out and someone tells you to take a deep breath? Ever have it not work?

That was me.

Sometimes alternate ways of breathing while the body is under stress include increasing resistance.

What does that mean? Try this: make a fist and hold it up to your mouth. Breath through your partially clenched fist. It's hard to get air through. That's resistance. This is something we teach wind players about strength in their air stream during music lessons.

But why is this important when you're stressing?

Because resistance SLOWS down your breath.

Think about it- have you ever been so stressed, or panicked, or worse, had a panic attack and your breathing got faster?

Deep breathing can also be fast, and fast deep breathing can lead to hyperventilation and dizziness. Not helpful.

Try this: breathe slower. On purpose. Make each inhale and then each exhale last four slow counts. Can you slow the speed of the counts after a few breaths?

How do you feel now?

If anyone just tried it now, do you feel more relaxed, whether stressed or not?