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Breathe, Breath Work and Breath Walking: Ways to Relax and Destress

Updated on August 30, 2014

Breathe in, Breathe out

Breathe Deeply
Breathe Deeply | Source

A Powerful Relaxation Tool

Many people are surprised to discover that they carry a powerful relaxation technique with them at all times. All they need to do is become aware and plug into it to take advantage of the many benefits.

What is this powerful relaxation tool?

The breath and breathing.

Slowing down to focus on one's breath can be very a effective method for helping to consciously relax; this technique can also have powerful effects on one's ability to cope with stress.

Breathing, Breath Work and Breathwalking are three very simple ways to relax, unwind and destress.

Count Your Breaths

15 breaths/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day = 21,600 breaths/day

Defining Breathe

Breathe has several different definitions according to

"To breathe" is:

  • To take in air (or oxygen) into the lungs,
  • To inhale and exhale
  • To respire
  • To pause
  • To take rest

While the initial definitions focus on the physiological effects of the breath that are needed to sustain life, the latter definitions, "to pause" and "to take rest" focus on the relaxation and stress reduction effects.

Poll on Breaths

What is the average number of breaths that you take each day?

See results

Just Breathe Decal

Just Breathe Wall Decal Quote Sticker Living Room Stickers Vinyl Removable Black Color High 50cm Wide 70cm
Just Breathe Wall Decal Quote Sticker Living Room Stickers Vinyl Removable Black Color High 50cm Wide 70cm

My favorite breathing mantra, "Just Breathe." Put the decal on the walls as a visual reminder to breathe.


Health Benefits of Breathing

Breathing has been shown to have many different health benefits from helping to manage stress to managing a variety of different chronic illness.

Some of the mental health issues improved by just breathing include:

  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression and mood disorders

In addition breathing helps improve the symptoms of several acute and chronic illness along with helping with pain management.

  • Asthma
  • Hot Flashes
  • Manage Chronic Illnesses: Heart disease, High blood pressure, Cancer and HIV/AIDS
  • Decrease Pain

Breathing is also important to the health and performance of athletes.

  • Increased endurance
  • Improved sports performance

Keep a Visual Reminder to Breathe

Keep a Visual Reminder to Breathe
Keep a Visual Reminder to Breathe | Source

Breath Awareness Mantra

Use this quote as a mantra to help in relaxing and being present.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Ways to Remember to Breathe

I use several different cues and visual reminders to help me remember to focus on my breath and to breathe.

Here are a few cues to use:

  • A small rock with "Breathe" on the desk.
  • A trinket dish with "inhale, exhale, repeat"
  • A pocket token with "Breathe."
  • A bracelet with "Just Breathe."
  • A wall decal with "Just Bareathe."
  • A walll hanging with "Keep Calm and Just Breathe."

A Question on Breathing

Do you think about your breath and breathing during the day?

See results

Breathing Just Happens

Breathing is something we do automatically every day on an average of 21,600 times.

It is a quick way to calm down, to quiet anger, to lower the heart rate and reduce stress,but many of us do not really stop to think about our breath or breathing.

Dr. Kirsti A. Dyer

Slow, Deep Breathing

One of the easiest techniques to learn is slow, deep breathing. This technique will help you calm down in just a few deep breaths.

  1. Pause to focus on the breath.
  2. Breathe in slowly and deeply.
  3. Breathe out slowly.
  4. Repeat at least 3 times.
  5. Feel your body relax.

When breathing in and out, you may want breath to count of 2 to 4, whatever it takes to get in a slow and deep breath.

This is a technique I have been writing about and teaching for many years.

Quick Calm Deep Breathing


I am warm.

I am calm.

Quick Calm Breathe

The Quick Calm Deep Breathing technique as explained by Jordan Friedman, The Stress Coack, is a helpful technique that can be used to calm down anytime.

Use it anytime you are faced with a stressful event like a presentation or exam, during an argument, when driving or flying and if having a panic episode.

Just remember “I am warm” and “I am calm.”

Breathing Techniques

Slow, Deep Breathing
4-7-8 Breathing
Breath Walking
1. Pause to focus on the breath
*Quick to teach to patients*
*Can be done outside*
2. Breathe in slowly and deeply
1. Breathe through the nose to a count of 4
Breathe in for 4
3. Breathe out slowly
2. Hold for a count of 7
Breathe out for 4
4. Repeat at least 3 times
3. Breath out through the nose to a count of 8.
Walk in cadence with the count of 4
5. Feel the body relax
Repeat for 4 cycles
Can do Wave or Stair breathing
Summaries of different breathing techniques used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Learn Breath Work and Breathwalking from the Experts

As part of a Fellowship program in Integrative Medicine, I have the privilege of learning from, breathing and walking with some of the leading experts in the field of Integrative Medicine.

The hand selected collection of video clips are ones that I have presented to my graduate and continusing education students in courses that I have taught on Integrative Medicine and on Grief, Loss and Bereavement.

Why Breathwork Maters - Dr. Andrew Weil

Focus on the Breath

Make your breath—Deeper, Slower, Quieter and More Regular

Dr. Andrew Weil

Thoughts on Breathing

In this first video Dr. Weil explains his thoughts on Breath Work.

He also shares how using the breath is an easy integrative practice that can provide great health benefits.

Breath Awareness - Dr. Andrew Weil

Breath Awareness and 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

This video was recorded at one of the Fellowship Residential Weeks by another one of the Integrative Medicine Fellows.

Listen to Dr. Weil discuss how one can become more aware of the breath. He then goes on to explain and demonstrate the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Breath Awareness is shifting focus or becoming aware of the breath, particularly when dealing with stressful situations or when experiencing upsetting thoughts.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can quickly and easily learned and then be taught to others including children in the classroom and patients in the office or hospital settings.

Breathing for Health

Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Minute Medicine - Dr. Tierarona Low Dog

4-7-8 Breathing technique - Dr. Tieraona Low Dog

In this video Dr. Tieraona Low Dog shares a Minute Medicine with a simple meditation technique that you can do anywhere, anytime.

Dr. Low Dog shares her view on breathing and the the 4-7-8 breathing technique as part of a book promo for her book, Life is Your Best Medicine.

Discover more about health, heaing and wholeness for women and men by reading her book on Life is Your Best Medicine.

Breathwalking - Dr. Jim Nicolai

Breathwalking Technique - Dr. Jim Nicolai

In this video, Integrative Medicine Fellow graduate, Dr. Jim Nicolai, demonstrates how you can easily combine breathing with walking or breathwalking.

He teaches how to breathe "fuller, deeper and more even" while walking at the same time. There are two main breathing styles, waves and stairs. Each are done to a count of 4.

With Breathwalking you get the benefits of walking, breathing and meditation all at the same time. This is a particulary helpful technique for those who enjoy being outside walking.

I had a chance to experience breathwalking with Dr. Nicolai at a conference in 2013 and it was a fun technique to learn. It is an easy meditative, movement technique to learn.

Just Breathe

Breathe - Just Breathe
Breathe - Just Breathe | Source

Review of Techniques

Several different breathing techniques were present on this page as ways to help in focusing, relaxing and unwinding.

The techniques include:

  • Slow, Deep Breaths
  • Breath Awareness
  • 4-7-8 Breathing
  • Breath Walking

Experiment with these different techniques and see which one or ones work the best for you.

© 2014 Kirsti A. Dyer

Share Your Favorite Breathing Technique

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    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 3 years ago from Northern California

      The great thing about using the breath is that it is always with you, so you don't have to go anywhere or do anything to use it. Have fun trying some of these easy breathing techniques. Let me know how it goes.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Often I don't think I practice breathing to get the best out of it.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 3 years ago from Northern California

      I have several. I keep a pebble with "Breathe" on my desk and have a bracelet that I wear with "Breathe" on it too.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      I'm aware of it, but don't do it enough. Having a visual reminder of it would be a great idea.