Can Breathing Exercises Help Me To Relax And Reduce Stress, And What Technique Works Best?

Roberta Lee, M.D, Beth Israel

Question: Can breathing exercises help me to relax and reduce stress, and what technique works best?

Answer: Breathing exercises are one of the most portable ways that I know an individual can really tap into the relaxation response. I often teach people a breath exercise that takes no longer than 15 seconds and I see an immediate response of relaxation, and you can do it as many times during the day as you need to. My favorite technique is the four-five-breath exercise in which you inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold for one second and exhale through your mouth to a count of five.

I generally suggest that people do four of these breaths twice a day, and I find that people effectively are relaxing with this very short technique.

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