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3 Breathing Techniques to Release Stress at Work (and at your Home Office)

November 26, 2021

blog post illustration

3 Breathing Techniques to Release Stress at Work (and at your Home Office)

There are ways to navigate stress, and breathwork is one of the most impactful and yet easy practices to incorporate into your work week.


November 26, 2021


photograph of Vivian Rosenthal

Vivian Rosenthal

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photograph of Sydney Struble

Sydney Struble

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a contemporary shift in the ways in which individuals work. The percentage of remote workers has risen, while simultaneously a large number of individuals now have to readjust to being back in the office.

Remote employees may face more distractions, have difficulty setting boundaries, and find it harder to maintain routines and structure, while those acclimating back to in-person work may struggle with the prospect of leaving the safety of their home and entering into an environment plagued with uncertainties, shifting their personal boundaries, and assimilating to a workspace that may look different from that which was previously known. As a result, work stress levels have drastically increased.

Fortunately, there are ways to navigate stress, and breathwork is one of the most impactful and yet easy practices to incorporate into your work week.

In his book A New Earth, spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle states, “Be aware of your breathing as often as you’re able to - it takes attention away from thinking...it is powerfully transformative, and it is a way of generating space. It is a way of generating consciousness.”


The Relationship Between Stress and Breath:

How we breathe is how we feel. When we shallow breathe, which we do when we are stressed, we trigger the sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as fight-or-flight, perpetuating feelings of stress. However, when we can consciously and deliberately alter our breathing patterns to encompass deeper and slower breaths, we move into the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest, encouraging states of calm and relaxation.

And how exactly does this work? When we shallow breathe, the air remains in the top third of our lungs, rather than moving to the lower areas where oxygen and nutrients can be supplied to the body. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen, we can experience feelings of stress and anxiety. But by changing the rhythm of our breath and breathing more deeply, we slow our heart rate and stimulate the vagus nerve, the main driver of the parasympathetic nervous system that oversees the body’s rest and digest activities. As such, activating the vagus nerve sends a signal to the body that it is time to de-stress.


Breathing Exercises to Release Stress and Breathe in Serenity:

What is so incredible about breathing techniques is that they are simple, quick, and highly effective ways to regulate our nervous system, immediately inciting shifts in how we feel. Additionally, they can be done anywhere, making them practical and powerful tools for managing workplace stress.

Here are three breathing techniques for workplace stress release to try out!


Belly Breathing

How to do it:

  • Find a comfortable position, whatever that may look like for you.
  • Close your eyes if it feels safe. If not, please soften your gaze to the floor in front of you.
  • Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart.
  • Inhale through the nose, and let the belly expand, feeling your hand rise with your breath.
  • Exhale slowly through the nose or mouth, and let the belly return to its normal position.
  • Repeat until you feel a greater sense of peace.


Box Breathing

How to do it:

  • Find a comfortable position, whatever that may look like for you.
  • Close your eyes if it feels safe. If not, please soften your gaze to the floor in front of you.
  • Inhale for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Exhale for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Repeat until you feel a greater sense of relaxation.
  • You can inhale and exhale through the nose or mouth, whichever feels most comfortable for you.

You can also play with increasing your counts up to 7, as long as your inhale and exhale remain even.


4-7-8 Breathing

As long exhalations trigger a relaxation response in the body and this breathing technique prioritizes the exhale, it is one of the most efficient for stress release.

How to do it:

  • Find a comfortable position, whatever that may look like for you.
  • Close your eyes if it feels safe. If not, please soften your gaze to the floor in front of you.
  • Inhale deeply through the nose for a count of 4. Note that the belly should expand as you breathe in.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale out through the mouth for a slow count of 8. This can be through the nose or mouth, see which feels most comfortable for you.
  • Repeat until you feel a greater sense of calm.

For more information on the power of breath and to experience its profound effects, explore Frequency’s on-demand content, daily live-streamed sessions, and in-person breathwork classes.

updated on January 12, 2022


photograph of Vivian Rosenthal

Vivian Rosenthal

Vivian is the co-founder of Frequency, a creative entrepreneur, and breathwork facilitator.
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photograph of Sydney Struble

Sydney Struble

Sydney is a perpetual student who pursues the exploration of the interplay between mind, body, and spirit. As a yoga instructor and breathwork facilitator, she creates a container for you to connect back home to yourself, your authenticity, and your curiosity.

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