Online since 2002 |   866-316-0162

Articles and News

Deep Breathing Exercises for Everyone

Deep Breathing Exercises for Everyone
Laura Castricone, CRT

Before I became a respiratory therapist, I thought that I knew how to breathe. I guess I just took it for granted that you inhale and exhale and that’s it. But it turns out that there are many breathing techniques that can help in various situations (i.e., stress, shortness of breath, and anxiety.) I will discuss just a few breathing techniques that we employ for our lung impaired patients, and some techniques that are used to help with stress or anxiety.

In the western world, we don’t breathe properly. We are a bunch of “shallow breathers” who quickly go about our business to get to the next task. The total lung capacity of an adult male is approximately 6 liters of air (the size of three large soda bottles). But when we breathe, on average we only take in about 0.5 liters of air each breath, and for people with impaired lungs, it is even less. When we are stressed or short of breath, we tend to pant or take shallow breaths. This does not allow the full amount of oxygen to enter the bloodstream (hyperbaric oxygen therapy at home) and it causes us to blow off too much of our carbon dioxide.

Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

1. Pursed Lip Breathing Technique

This is a breathing technique that is taught to every patient who is diagnosed with lung disease and becomes short of breath. It can be used by anyone at any time and is employed by weightlifters and bodybuilders routinely. The premise of this technique is that by “pursing” the lips, you create a back pressure in the airway keeping it from prematurely collapsing down on exhalation. To do this maneuver, the patient is instructed to breathe in deeply through the nose only and exhale through pursed lips. This also helps to slow breathing down and keep carbon dioxide from being expelled too quickly. It also allows oxygen time to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Breathing Exercises
Breathing Exercises for Anxiety
Deep Breathing Exercise

2. Belly Breathing Technique (Diaphragmatic Breathing)

Also called “belly breathing”, this technique is employing the diaphragm instead of the rib and neck muscles to do the work of breathing. Our diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that pulls down on the lungs to fill them and pushes upon them to empty them. People who suffer from lung disease have damaged diaphragms. Either the diaphragm is no longer functioning as it used to because of “over-inflation” of the lungs pushing down on the muscle making it flat instead of dome-shaped or the nerve that innervates it is impaired. To perform diaphragmatic breathing, it is recommended that the patient sit comfortably and place a hand on the belly. When inhaling through the nose, the belly should rise and exhalation should be done through the mouth for twice as long as inhalation. Not only does this help to fill and empty the lungs properly, but it is also a form of mindful breathing and can help with anxiety and stress.

Breathing Technique
Deep Breathing for Stress and Anxiety

3. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

This is an excellent and easy way to practice mindful breathing. Simply put, you breathe in slowly through the nose for a full four seconds, hold that breath in for 7 seconds, and slowly, slowly exhale for a total of 8 seconds. It helps to slow down breathing and the absorption of oxygen. It also helps to slowly expel carbon dioxide from the lungs. I am a practitioner of this technique and it has been a fantastic way for me to decrease stress and anxiety.

Breathing techniques are important for energy conservation as well as for overall well-being. If you suffer from breathing issues or are short of breath with certain activities of daily living, try to use an alternative way to breathe so that you can be more comfortable when you are active. None of these techniques are dangerous. You can perform them anywhere at any time to help overcome some of your breathing obstacles.


Author Profile: Laura Castricone, Respiratory Therapist

Laura Castricone (Certified Respiratory Therapist)

My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care including sleep medicine, critical care, rehab, and home care. I earned my respiratory certification at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Prior to becoming an RT, I attended the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in English but left Uconn in my junior year to work with my father in the restaurant business. I stayed with him for over a dozen years. An education, by the way, that can never be bought! Once I married and had children, the restaurant business no longer fit my lifestyle. When my children were one and two years old, I decided to go back to school and that is where my career in respiratory care began. This career has been very rewarding and I have been blessed to meet some extraordinary people along the way. I grew up in Waterbury, CT, and now live in Litchfield County, CT with my husband and our crazy Jack Russell terrier, Hendrix. My hobbies include antiquing, gardening, writing plays, and painting miniature paintings.


Related Articles



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Laura Castricone, CRT

Laura Castricone, CRT

LinkedIn Profile My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory ...

Continue reading

Trending Articles

Enteral Feeding: The What, When, and How

Shweta Chaubey

When traditional oral intake is not feasible, enteral feeding comes into play. It supports nutritional needs of individuals recovering from an injury or surgery. Dive into this informative article and learn what, when, why, and how of enteral feeding and ensure optimal patient care.

Using the Carpal Solution Carpal Tunnel Wrist Support

Kevin Cleary

Looking for a non-invasive option to manage carpal tunnel symptoms? Experience relief from constant tingling and pain with this Carpal Solution Wrist Support. Read this article to know about the unique features and benefits of this wrist support brace designed to deal with CTS and find why it is one of the most reliable wrist braces available on the market.

Top 5 Best Reviewed Nebulizers of 2023

Kevin Cleary

Need an effective and affordable nebulizer? Look no further, in this article we offer 5 of our best reviewed nebulizers that are loved by our customers. Click to read more and find the perfect nebulizer for all your respiratory needs.

10 Best Overnight Adult Diapers

Shweta Chaubey

Worried about nighttime leaks? Say goodbye to leakage with our ten best overnight adult diapers and wake up refreshed and dry.

Five Best Cervical Traction Devices of 2023

Taikhum Sadiq

Neck pain can wreak havoc on your otherwise healthy life. Traction device improves your cervical health and overall well-being. Read more to find our best cervical traction devices designed to curb the stiffness and discomfort of cervical muscles.