Deep breathing helps to facilitate relaxation and calm intense emotional states. Shallow breathing leads to increased anxiety and stress, whereas deep breathing slows you down and provides more oxygen to your body.
Begin by breathing normally, but paying attention to each breath. After several breaths, begin to breathe more deeply - longer inhalations and longer exhalations. With deep breathing, you breathe from your diaphragm, from your gut. Notice the three parts to your breathing - your chest rises, your ribs expand, and your belly rises as you breathe in. Place your hands for several breaths on your chest, then your ribs, and finally your belly, to feel the breath moving through you. Breathe deeply and slowly, focusing all of your attention on each breath. Don't rush it or breathe quickly. As you exhale naturally, allow any tension to leave you with the breath. Imagine the tension draining from your body and mind as you exhale. Notice the feeling of calm and relaxation that comes with exhalation.
Compiled by Brigid Cahill, Ph.D. for the University Counseling Center.