Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

Breathing and relaxation techniques are important for stress reduction and optimal performance. Breathing exercises are a simple and effective way to manage stress.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are closely connected.

Have you noticed that when you feel a bit frazzled and out of balance that your breathing speeds up?

It probably gets more rapid and shallow. This is a typical stress symptom.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to manage stress is right under your nose!

Deep breathing has been a foundation of yoga and tai chi exercises for thousands of years and is the basis of many relaxation exercises.

Here I provide a breathing relaxation technique that can give you quick stress relief in a matter of seconds.

A quick breathing technique: The Quieting Reflex

This breathing and relaxation technique is adapted from Dr Charles Stroebel, a psychologist and expert in stress management at Yale University.

When stressed, there are a number of physiological reactions that characterize the fight or flight response.

These include a number of stress symptoms such as:

  • increased vigilance
  • excess muscle tension
  • increased breathing rate
  • a drop in temperature in the hands and feet.

To stop the cycle of the stress response, Dr Stroebel developed a relaxation breathing technique.

With practice he says that the Quieting Reflex can relax you in 6 seconds.

Breathing Relaxation Technique: The Quieting Reflex

  1. Notice what situation is triggering your stress symptoms.
  2. Break into a big, sparkly smile. If you are in a public place then this can be an inward smile. This triggers an endorphin release.
  3. Make a positive affirmation – for example “Body calm Mind alert,” or "I can do this." This counters the typical negative thoughts that may accompany stress.
  4. Take an easy, deep breath. Imagine this diaphragmatic breath coming up through the soles of your feet and filling your abdomen.
  5. As you exhale, let your jaw go loose, unclench your teeth and allow your shoulders to relax. Imagine a wave of warmth flowing through your body.
  6. Continue with normal activity.


The Quieting Reflex is done with your eyes open.

It only takes 6 seconds so practice at work, practice while you are waiting in line at the supermarket, or any other place.

I like to use reminders.

Every time my cell rings I do Quieting Reflex.

Several months of daily practice, up to 100 times a day (that’s only 10 minutes) the Quieting Reflex is argued to counter the stress response.

The Quieting Reflex has been shown to be effective for:

Other breathing and relaxation techniques

There are many breathing and relaxation techniques that you can use to counter stress and promote a calm and relaxed feeling. Some of them include:

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