Take a deep breath!

Let’s make our breaths into a powerful tool we can use to calm us down or energize us by practicing basic breathing mechanics and some easy yet effective techniques.

One of them frees your nose when it is stuffed. It’s good.

Good breathing technique is easy to learn. Making it a habitual part of your daily life may take some practice though. Prioritizing breathwork for a while until you have the basics down and feel yourself breathing well during the day might be a good idea. 

Let’s look at what a good breathing pattern looks like, how we can use the breath to influence the way we feel and perform, and some useful techniques.


Breathing basics

For simplicity, we differentiate between 2 breathing patterns. 

Deep and shallow. Belly and chest. Calm and stressed. 

When we are relaxed our midsections expand calmly to let air in. 

When we are stressed our breathing gets more shallow and rapid. 

Both are important but through bad posture and mental stress, most of us spend a too large amount of time taking shallow, stressed sips of air that can’t fully give us the oxygen we need. 

Whenever possible you should use your nose for breathing and feel your stomach expand when you inhale. Put your hands on your chest and belly and make sure your bottom hand moves first and way more than the upper one. You should also feel the contraction of your breathing muscles way down in your pelvis.

Breath for the occasion

If we are not conscious of it our breathing will fall into the pattern that matches our current situation and state. 

Exhaustion and stress make us suck for air while sleep and relaxation calmly expand and contract our torsos. 

Lucky for us, this mechanism works the other way around as well.

We can take control of our breath and align it with the pattern that fits the physical and mental state we want to be in. 

Hyperventilating makes us feel alert and energized.

Inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly reduces tension and slows our heart rate.

Let’s look at 3 breathing techniques that use this principle and which we can practice and then rely on when we need to calm ourselves down or muster up some more energy. 

Physiological sigh

Use this one to calm yourself down almost instantly.

So simple and quick, it’s hard to believe it works until you try it. 

  • Take 2 inhales through the nose and then exhale fully through the mouth.
  • The first of the 2 inhales should be a little longer and softer, imagine savoring a smell.
  • The second is supposed to be sharp like a sniff and fill your lungs up fully.
  • Open your mouth and exhale with a deep sigh, emptying your lungs completely.

Doing this once or twice is enough to make you feel significantly calmer.
In the beginning, it may feel unusual to empty your lungs but the intensity of the relaxation depends on you getting all the air out.

The best time to experience the effectiveness and also to practice this tool is during your workouts. Or more accurately the rest periods. If from now on you add one sigh after the end of each set it will soon be second nature to calm yourself with it when you feel stressed in any situation.

4-4-4-4 / Box breathing

One of the most simple yet effective breathing exercises to get you calm, centered, and focused.

  • Inhale through your nose, expanding mostly your belly and sides.
  • Softly hold your breath using just as much tension as needed to not exhale.
  • Empty your lungs completely through your mouth.
  • Feel relaxation spread out through your body while holding your breath, again without any strain or effort.

Aim for 4s each, if this feels too difficult in the beginning start with a shorter duration but keep all 4 steps of the exercise the same.

Do this circular pattern for a few minutes to calm down and center yourself. 

Cyclic hyperventilation with breath holds

It’s hard to feel tired after you do a few rounds of this exercise. 

  • Inhale 30 times through the nose, filling the lungs completely. 
  • Don’t actively exhale, just let the air drop out of your mouth. 
  • Exhale completely and hold your breath with empty lungs for as long as you comfortably can. 
  • Repeat for 2-3 rounds.

Expect to feel a bit of tingling in your hands and head during the hyperventilation part and don’t be surprised if you can sit for a long time during the breath hold. 

The energy and activation from the heavy breathing as well as the calm and focus from sitting still in between will both remain after doing the technique and set you up for a bout of powerful effort. 

Open a stuffy nose

Hopefully not something you need regularly but when you do it’s a lifesaver.

It will of course not cure the cause of your stuffy nose and the effects may be short lasting but getting just a few deep breaths in can feel amazing when you are congested. 

  • Take a few deep breaths through your mouth and then fully exhale. 
  • Close your mouth and keep it shut. 
  • Hold your breath with empty lungs until it gets uncomfortable. And then a little more.
    You should feel your diaphragm contract a few times, trying to pull some air in.
  • When you can’t hold it anymore, inhale deeply through your nose. 

If everything works as it should, the swelling that blocked your nasal airways went down as a result of your body not wanting you to suffocate. 

It will probably be back in a few minutes but until then enjoy a few bites of food or just a few deep breaths. 

Feel better soon!


Put these breathing techniques in your toolkit. 

I’m sure that once you felt them working for you they will become an important part of your daily routine.