Breathing Exercises To Reduce Stress and Change Your Mood

By Rebecca Sanderson – Director – The Mindset Clinic

15 March 2016

Breathing Exercises – How to change the way you feel 

We take it for granted but by changing the way we breathe we can actually change the way we feel. Our breathing is influenced by our state, physiology and thought processes. By focusing your attention on your breathing you can very quickly change your state and your mood. I recommend getting into the habit of shifting your awareness to your breath whenever you find yourself dwelling on stressful situations or start to feel the onset or anxiety.

Breathing exercises are very simple and can be done anywhere. They are the quickest way to prevent and control a panic attack. They are so simple that its easy to dismiss their effectivity.

Breathing Exercise to Reduce Stress

Breathing exercises are a great way to reduce anxiety, stress, agitation and tension as they promote relaxation, calmness and a feeling of peace and tranquility. A calm, relaxed body and mind is less prone to experience health issues.

Take a moment to focus on your own breathing now, and as you do, just slow down a little the rate at which you breathe in and the rate at which you breathe out. In a matter of breaths you will start to feel more relaxed. Simple isn’t it?!

Breathing is so automatic that we forget sometimes how it can influence our feelings. This is particularly important if you are suffering from anxiety and stress as the chances are you could actually be breathing in too much oxygen and unwittingly hyperventilating. Many patients with anxiety that I see actually breathe too fast and I encourage them to try some of these breathing techniques for themselves.


By cupping your hands over your nose and mouth and breathing in the air between your hands you can decrease the amount of carbon dioxide your body loses. Too little CO2 in our bodies can cause confusion, dizziness and light-headedness. Hyperventilation can cause weakness, numbness, tingling in the arms or mouth and also muscle spasms in the hands and feet. If you experience these symptoms then it’s important to get checked out by your GP or physician but it’s quite possible that hyperventilation could be the cause.

  • Cup your hands together and place lightly over your nose and mouth.
  • Then breathe in and out no more than 6-12 times.
  • As you breathe out the CO2 from your lungs collects in your hands and you can re-breathe it to help restore the balance of oxygen and C02 in your blood.

Quite often this technique is recommended with a paper bag but I prefer to use cupped hands as most people I know don’t tend to carry a paper bag around with them! Using your hands for the cupping method also enables you to do it on the bus, tube or at your desk without attracting too much attention!

Ratio breathing

There are many different forms of ratio breathing exercises and if you are interested in more advance techniques then check out various Yoga blogs on this subject. However, there is a very simple form of ratio breathing that I teach my clients who experience anxiety or stress and it is less confusing than more advance techniques. Like cupping, ratio breathing is great for restoring the body’s natural balance of oxygen and CO2. It is best carried out whilst breathing through the nose. Breathing through the nose helps to slow down and regulate the frequency of breaths. Simply:-

  • Breathe in through your nose to the count of 1, 2, 3
  • Breathe out through your nose to the count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Repeat for four cycles.

At the Mindset Clinic clients are encouraged to imagine a colour as they breathe in, a colour which signifies to them calmness and tranquility and to imagine that colour spreading throughout their body. Then on the out breath they are asked to imagine a colour that represents toxicity and to breathe out the toxic colour and any impurities, negative emotions or unhelpful thoughts. Try it now for just a few breaths and see how much more relaxed you feel. When done under hypnosis this is a really powerful technique to gain deep relaxation.

At the Mindset Clinic we love helping our clients to live a healthy happy life. If you have not tried hypnotherapy before why not book in for a relaxation session where you can let your mind relax from the stresses and strains of life?

For more information or to book a relaxation session please email