Deep breathing can help reduce stress. Often when we are stressed, our breathing becomes shorter and shallower. That means we are breathing with only part of our total lung capacity. The chest becomes tight, and in order to compensate, we breathe faster and faster. The average respiratory rate in adults is about 14-20 breaths per minute. Stress or panic can double or even triple that rate resulting in hyperventilation.
If you want to reduce your stress level, go to a quiet room, dim the lights, sit down comfortably (or lie down), close your eyes, and do some “abdominal breathing.” Put your hands on your stomach, and breathe slowly, as if you are filling your stomach with air. Focus on the rise and fall of your stomach. This gesture encourages you to fill your entire lungs with oxygen when you inhale, and empty all of your lungs completely when you exhale.
Our breathing is a natural built in source of relaxation. We just have to tune into it. Do this in the morning and even at work whenever you feel tense. It is also a great way to unwind from a busy day.