Practical Breathing Techniques

Regulating your nervous system, by actively breathing…

Where to start...

As we all know by now, how you breath affects how your body feels, the thing is when it comes to your nervous system it can either slow it down or amp it up depending on the patterns of breath.

There are many forms of breathing techniques that are proven to be helpful, but being told to “experiment and find just find the one that feels right for you” may not be so helpful, and may even be anxiety provoking for people who are experiencing depression, anxiety or panic related issues.

We all hear how important breathing techniques are for managing stress, but which one do you choose?

  • Box Breathing
  • Physiological Sigh
  • Breath-in and hold for 10
  • Controlled hyperventilation
  • 5-7-8 Technique
  • Alternate nostril breathing
  • The list goes on…

All these techniques have value, but like any master-craftsman, one must know which tools to use for the job at hand. 


Box Breathing

Most people over-breathe during the day, which causes CO2/O2 imbalances and result in many anxiety like symptoms and impaired physical and cognitive functioning. In this case Box Breathing (aka Square Breathing – equal parts inhale, hold, exhale, hold, inhale etc ) can be very helpful in regulating CO2/O2 levels and restoring healthy balance to the physical organism, in addition to having soothing psychological effects.

Physiological Sigh

If someone is Anxious and close to panic, a few repetitions of the Physiological Sigh can help (breath in fully through the nose, then take one more breath in, and release in a sigh), two or three of these will immediately down-shift the nervous system.

Controlled hyperventilation

A brief dose of Wim Hof Breathing (Controlled Hyperventilation followed by exhale hold, then inhale hold) can help to boost energy levels and cognitive abilities in most people.

5-7-8 Technique

Breathe in for the count of 5 – hold for 7 – then breathe out for 8.

This is especially helpful for those who need help switching off when it’s time for sleep as it feels similar to a yawn and will activates the parasympathetic nervous system to unwind.

How we can help

If you desire a sense of efficacy over your internal environment and would like to explore these techniques further, Mr. Phillip Lathopolous, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist here at Psychology Health Studios can support you.

Ionic breath-work and nervous system regulation are also supported by Naturopath Kinesiologist Sarah Claiden.  

If you feel that you or a family member may benefit from psychological and/or nervous system support request an appointment online for a time that suits you.

Additional Support

Wim Hof Breathing Exercises