Mental Health

How Deep Breathing Actually Helps

For years, people have told me to take a deep breath. And I did. And I would feel better afterwards.

I forgot how well this worked for me until recently.

But since I am the queen of many questions, and am always interested in the how and the why, I decided to do a little research on how exactly deep breathing helps us calm down.

  • It gives us something to focus on until we’re relaxed.
  • It’s a reminder that you’re okay; you’re alive.
  • Deep breathing “stimulates the parasympathic nervous system, which promotes deep breathing” (Marksberry, 2017).
  • It gives us a way to react to stress. “Taking a few minutes to breathe properly is one way to helps control and manage your reaction to stress” (Bailey, 2012).
  • Sometimes when we are stressed or anxious, we begin to breathe shallowly. “The shallow breathing brings less oxygen into our bodies which means that our brains – which use 25% of the oxygen we take in – is getting less oxygen, too, causing us to have difficulty concentrating and focusing. And likely right when we need both of those abilities the most.” Shallow breathing also makes our hearts beat faster, which makes us feel more anxious (Emel, 2013).

I used to think “take a deep breath” was ridiculous advice because I couldn’t see how that could change anything. Now, it’s an essential part of my coping plan.

There are a bunch of different deep breathing exercises, and many different resources to show you how to do them.

It’s easy. You can do it anywhere, anytime. And it can be done in just a couple minutes.

It’s great for those with a busy lifestyle.

So, next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or even a little frustrated, take a few deep breath. Remember, it’s all going to be okay eventually.


Bailey, E. (2012). Why Breathing Helps Us Relax. Health Central. Retrieved from

Emel, B. (2013). 3 Surprising Ways a Deep Breath Can Reduce Your Anxiety. Pick the Brain. Retrieved from

Marksberry, K. (2017). Take a Deep Breath. American Institute of Stress. Retrieved from

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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