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Breathe Easy

Effective breathwork methods for lowering stress

August 2023

By Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski, Contributing Columnist

Deep breathing helps manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Photo by Yolya courtesy of Canva.com.


Work demands, household management and taking care of family and ourselves have become stressful, omnipresent forces affecting adults of all ages and backgrounds. However, we all possess an extraordinary tool for combating stress right within us: our breath. Harnessing the power of breathwork techniques can bring about profound relaxation, restore inner balance and promote overall well-being. 

Deep Belly Breathing

 One of the simplest and most accessible breathwork techniques for reducing stress is deep belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. Begin by finding a comfortable sitting or lying position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your mouth, noticing your belly falling. Focus on the sensation of your breath, letting go of any tension or worries. Repeat this deep belly breathing for several minutes to calm your mind and induce a state of relaxation. 

Box Breathing

 Box breathing, often employed by athletes and Navy SEALs, is a powerful breathwork technique that promotes stress reduction. This breathing method helps regulate the nervous system. Start by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four, filling your lungs to capacity. Hold your breath for another count of four. Exhale slowly and entirely through your mouth for a count of four. Finally, hold your breath again for a count of four before beginning the next cycle. Continue this rhythmic pattern for several rounds, focusing on the gentle flow of your breath. 

Photo courtesy of Freepik.com by ArtPhoto_studio

Alternate Nostril Breathing

 Derived from the ancient yogic practice of Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing is a soothing technique that balances the mind and body. Start by sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Place your right thumb on your right nostril, closing it gently. Inhale through your left nostril for a slow count of four. At the top of the inhale, close your left nostril with your ring finger, releasing the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril for a count of four. Inhale through the right nostril, close it and exhale through the left. Repeat this cycle for several rounds, allowing your breath to flow effortlessly. Alternate nostril breathing enhances mental clarity, reduces anxiety and cultivates a sense of tranquility. 

Photo courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/ by Beth Scupham

By consciously engaging with our breath, we tap into a natural source of calm and resilience. Whether it’s deep belly breathing, box breathing or alternate nostril breathing, these simple and accessible methods can be practiced anywhere at any time. So take a moment to pause, connect with your breath, and experience the transformative power of these breathwork techniques. Embrace the serenity within you and cultivate a more peaceful, stress-free life.

 Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski is a certified nutrition counselor, weightlifting coach, life coach and stress-management specialist. 

All health-related content and media provided by Cooperative Living or its website(s) is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.