I would guess the most popularly used ‘breathing tool’ is the one that promotes relaxation. Promoting relaxation, in many cases, reduces stress. Yogis say: “It becomes difficult to steal our peace when we own our breath.” Therefore, mastering an effective breathing tool for de-stressing is imperative for breath ownership.

Stress reaction

I feel stressed when experiencing demanding circumstances that my brain has difficulties processing. Stress comes in varying intensities. Low-intensity stress leaves me in a state of alertness and is not necessarily negative. However, as stress intensity increases, it may become more difficult for me to manage. Experiencing prolonged high-intensity stress may trigger unmanageable emotions.

Different forms of stress have been following us since we lived in caves. For many years it did not have the name ‘stress,’ but it was indeed there. The feeling of stress prepares the body for physical exertion.

It’s common for people living in modern societies to drown themselves in obligations and not have enough resources to process their tasks. These people may set unrealistic goals, trying to squeeze out of life more than they can handle. A day of 24 hours is not enough and is stretched, pulled, and distorted to make ends meet. People unconsciously use their stress response to push their nervous system beyond its max capacity. To cope with the overload of tasks, we start to attach false threat levels to situations that are not dangerous. In this way, we manage to push ourselves to the limit. For example, we may feel our existence is compromised if we are late for a meeting at work. Sadly, this ‘trick’ of attaching false values has a price. When our nervous system is constantly on high alert, sending ‘wolf-wolf’ signals of emergency, we become exhausted and left with diminished resources once we encounter a real threat.

In modern societies, exposure to actual life-threatening situations is minimal. People in organized communities are relatively secure. ‘Frequent flyers’ of Fight or Flight state have constant, elevated levels of stress hormones in their bloodstream long after perceived threats have passed. Stress can get out of control and become chronic. The inability to shift out of the Fight or Flight state may be destructive. Constant stress may trigger countless health issues and even cause changes in a person’s mental structure.

The reaction to stressful situations is different from person to person. Stress manifestations may include sweating, dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, and intense breathing.

Handling stress

Life brings us to stressful situations; that’s part of what life is all about. Being able to ‘take some punches’ in life is an acquirable skill. In most cases, it’s not the challenging situations that stress us but our reaction to them, and we have both inward and outward reactions.

Stress is a strong distraction. One of the biggest challenges in implementing a relaxing breathing tool is remembering to use it on time, despite the strong disturbance. Making an exaggerated effort towards relaxation or overusing a breathing tool during a stressful situation may lead to more stress.

In everyday life, stress comes in different intensities. Therefore, a good approach is to start implementing a relevant breathing tool during minor irritations and gradually move on to more explosive situations.

Carbon dioxide back-feeding

In the old days, flight attendants on commercial airlines had a procedure for dealing with a passenger who got into a panic attack on a plane. As ‘first aid,’ they instructed the panicking passenger to breathe into the standard paper bag placed in the seat pocket in front.

When people panic, they over-breathe, expelling Carbon-diOxide from their bloodstream. That causes blood vessels to constrict, which intensifies panic.

Breathing into a paper bag increases the level of Carbon-diOxide circulating. As a result, blood vessels dilate, which in turn induces relaxation.

Using Carbon-diOxide back feeding without fully understanding the reason for over-breathing may be hazardous. For example, Carbon-diOxide back-feeding may be harmful to a passenger with asthma.

As a result, airlines abandoned this procedure in favor of instructing passengers in a state of panic to inhale normally and make a long-slow exhale.

An alternative to back-feeding Carbon-diOxide using a paper bag is cupping the palms of the hands together, creating a closed space, and breathing into the cupped palms.

Relaxing breathing actions

By prolonging my exhale, I can reduce my heartbeat, which often contributes to relaxation. Furthermore, slowing down my breathing increases Carbon-diOxide levels in my bloodstream, which is relaxing. The relaxing feeling comes from blood-vessels dilation, causing a drop in my blood pressure.

Using my diaphragm in an extended amplitude also helps me relax. The back-and-forth diaphragm movements send calming feedback signals to my ‘breathing app.’

I check my nostril dominance when I want to verify that I’m relaxed. If it’s weak, it indicates relaxation, whereas strong dominance may indicate stress. So when I want to induce relaxation, I take action and try to shift my nostril dominance toward balance.

When confronting momentary stress, the combined impact of calming breathing practice, and a matching facial expression, may do wonders. Breathing and mimicking are synergetic.

I exercise SmileBreathing for ‘mood immunization,’ but similar principles help me relax in immediate stressful situations. I synchronize my smiles to the rhythm of my breathing. It’s an excellent addition to my tool for relaxation.

General relaxation tool

  • I keep my eyes
  • Exclusive nose breathing.
  • Use my diaphragm in maximum amplitude.
  • Synchronize smiles, similar to the exercise SmileBreathing.


  1. I inhale, reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ once. 2 counts.
  2. Exhale, reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ twice. 4 counts.
  3. Add a breath-hold after exhaling, reciting my Mantra ‘relaaaaaax,’ until I gently reach ‘air hunger start.’

Remarks and details

Sometimes, when monitoring is needed,  I implement this tool with open eyes.

Air shortage

Those with no breathing problems take it for granted. But, as we all know, being unable to draw air is hugely stressful; nothing else matters when we can’t breathe freely!

Quite a few medical conditions cause the inability to draw air freely. An obstruction in the airways or a problem in the lungs themselves may prevent the needed gas exchange. Pneumonia, asthma, and covid19 are examples of medical conditions that may cause the feeling of suffocation. The more obstructed we are, the more stressed, and it feeds back. The more stress, the more obstructed we get; it becomes a vicious spiral.

Asthma relief

My nephew is asthmatic. When I suggested a breathing sequence as a supplement to his reliever inhaler when getting an attack, he dismissed it, saying, “The reliever works just fine.” When experiencing an asthma attack, the airways usually inflame and become swollen. As a protective measure, the muscles around the airways contract causing a narrowing in the windpipe. Besides that, extra mucus builds up in the lungs, which causes coughing and further breathing obstructions.

The exact triggers of asthma are not fully understood. For some people, the trigger is inhaling particular allergens. For others, stressing thoughts and negative emotions are enough to get them into an attack. The inability to breathe freely is stressful, whatever the reason.

Using a reliever inhaler helps open the airways and allows less restricted breathing. But using an inhaler repeatedly has adverse side effects. After an initial obstruction reduction using a reliever, a relaxing breathing sequence may prevent excessive use of relievers.

Relaxing when experiencing air shortage tool

  • I close my eyes if the situation allows it.
  • Exclusive nose
  • Diaphragmatic breathing to maximum amplitude.
  • Synchronize smiles on the inhale similarly to SmileBreathing.


  1. I inhale in 3 parts. 2 counts.
  2. Exhale in 3 parts, adding a very soft audible “Ahhhh hiss” through the nose. 4 counts.
  3. Add a short ‘confidence’ breath-hold after the exhale. 1 count.

Anxiety, depression, panic, and phobias

One of the main reasons for being stressed is reality, and an even greater reason for stress is disconnecting from reality. Having disproportional fears of an actual or perceived situation can be extremely stressful.

I’m an emotionally stable person, but when I swing into an emotional storm, I try and find a calm spot in the eye of the storm because running away from it is hopeless. Breathing practices assist me in creating a space within me when I experience high-stress levels. In many cases, it allows me to manage my fear instead of trying to expel it.

Anxiety, phobia, panic, and depression often trigger emotions of fear that manifest as stress. Therefore, breathing tools that reduce stress may help when facing these feelings of fear.

Relaxing when experiencing fear tool

  • I keep my eyes open if the situation allows it.
  • Lock my vision at a fixed point and avoid looking at things in motion.
  • Exclusive nose breathing
  • Use my diaphragm in maximum amplitude.


  1. I inhale, reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ once. 2 counts.
  2. Exhale, adding a very soft audible “Ahhhh hiss” through my nose and reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ twice. 4 counts.
  3. Add a breath-hold after exhaling, reciting my Mantra ‘relaaaaaax,’ until I gently reach ‘air hunger start.’

Anger and rage

When feelings of anger are totally out of control, it often becomes a rage. That happens when people feel misused, powerless, threatened, attacked, or frustrated. Even though the triggers are common in these extreme situations, the reaction is individual. Some people have a ‘longer fuse’ than others, and their response to anger is delayed or suppressed. However, for those having a short fuse, it takes a minor unpleasant incident, and they ‘go ballistic.’

The feeling of anger is unpleasant; it can take over and become highly dominant. Furthermore, there is an accumulating effect, so the earlier anger is addressed, the easier it is to gain control of it.

Relaxing when experiencing anger tool

  • If the situation allows it, I keep my eyes closed.
  • Exclusive nose breathing.
  1. I inhale and synchronize smiles similar to the exercise SmileBreathing.
  2. Exhale in steps similar to the exercise Dog barking.

Blood pressure regulation

When inhaling, my heart accelerates and beats faster. So it may seem this would increase my blood pressure, but what happens is precisely the opposite; my blood pressure decreases when inhaling. When I exhale, the opposite occurs. It’s because my heart pump has a pressure-equalizing feature.

As levels of Carbon-diOxide in my bloodstream increase, my blood vessels dilate, and my blood pressure drops. Increasing Carbon-diOxide in my bloodstream by slowing down my breathing is most efficient for reducing my blood pressure.

Using my nose and diaphragm when breathing further contributes to relaxation.

Reducing blood pressure tool

  • If the situation allows it, I keep my eyes closed.
  • Exclusive nose breathing.
  • I breathe similar to the exercises As if not breathing.
  1. Inhale while reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ twice. 4 counts.
  2. Exhale, reciting my Mantra ‘peace and quiet’ 4 times. 8 counts.
  3. Synchronize smiles on the inhale similar to the exercises SmileBreathing.