Keys to well-being: Self-regulation

Hello, dear readers! I am a specialist in health psychology and I am eager to share with you an effective technique for regulating the nervous system that has become a cornerstone in my stress relief toolkit.


In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, stress often becomes an unwelcome companion. Recognising the profound impact stress can have on our well-being, I want to introduce you to a method that has proven invaluable to me - deep breathing.

How can deep breathing reduce stress?

Deep breathing is more than just a simple act; it is a powerful tool to communicate with your body, signalling that there is no imminent danger. This, in turn, activates a segment of the nervous system that fosters relaxation and restoration. The benefits of deep breathing extend beyond mere stress relief; they permeate into our overall health and resilience.

Let me share a recent experience with you. I found myself amidst a hectic day, bombarded with tasks and suffocated by looming deadlines. Realising the paramount importance of carving out moments for relaxation, I turned to a technique I often advocate - the 'square' breathing method.

The process is elegantly straightforward:

  • Find a comfortable seated position.
  • Employ the palm of your hand, and embark on a slow inhalation through the nose, counting steadily to four. As you do so, trace your finger along the surface of your palm.
  • Following this, retain your breath for a count of four.
  • Then exhale gradually, counting to four once again.
  • Repeat this cycle, crafting a metaphorical 'breathing square', and dedicate a few minutes to this practice.

Importantly, the numerical aspect is flexible; attune it to your body's rhythm.

Deep breathing is a remarkable ally in the battle against stress, wielding its influence over the heart and blood pressure. The deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling at a measured pace translates into a reduction in the frequency of heart contractions and a decrease in stress hormone levels. It is a subtle yet transformative process, harnessing the innate power within us to bring about a state of tranquillity.

To amplify the effectiveness of this technique, I introduced a bedtime ritual. Engaging in this calming practice in a serene state before sleep not only enhances its impact but also establishes positive associations with the act of deep breathing. Regularity is key. I earnestly advocate for the integration of this method into your daily routine – a commitment that demands only a few precious minutes but yields enduring benefits for your mental and physical well-being.

As you embark on this journey of self-care through deep breathing, my hope is that it becomes a steadfast companion in your pursuit of stress relief and inner calm. A tool so accessible yet profoundly impactful, it has the potential to be a beacon of serenity amidst life's storms.

For those eager to delve deeper into the realm of emotional well-being, in my next article, I will delve into the technique of emotional freedom, guiding you on a path to heightened self-awareness, acceptance of emotions, and effective management of them. Until then, may your breath be your anchor, grounding you in moments of serenity.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Stress

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals