illustration of man holding a brain

Breathwork for stress

Learn to regulate your body and mind in a stressful situation by concentrating on the breath.

Stress can arise in many ways in the workplace. There might be a difficult conversation on the horizon or perhaps you’ve experienced negative feedback from a colleague.

Alternatively, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work you have on your plate and are finding it hard to figure out where to begin. By working with your breath you’ll be able to regulate your nervous system quickly and calm your body when it is entering fight or flight mode. It’s handy to have a few simple breathing tools in your back pocket to keep calm in stressful situations.

When is the best time to use this tool?

  • Stressful situations
  • Difficult conversations
  • Presentations

How to use:

Diaphragmatic or deep belly breathing

  • Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down (nip into an empty meeting room or ideally outside for a few minutes).
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, just below your ribcage.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your chest to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Focus on expanding your diaphragm rather than lifting your chest.
  • Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth, feeling your belly fall as you release the air.
  • Continue this slow and rhythmic breathing for a few minutes, paying attention to each breath.

4-7-8 breathing

This tool is super simple and easy to do at your desk without anyone noticing a thing!

  • Inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight.
  • Repeat the cycle for a total of four breaths, gradually increasing the number as you become more comfortable.


You're about to head into a meeting and deliver some negative feedback to a member of your team. You feel your heart begin to race and your breath quicken as you anticipate the difficult conversation ahead. By taking a few minutes to concentrate on your breathing you are able to slow your heart rate and gather your thoughts, leaving you in a more relaxed state to enter the meeting.

Key Takeaway

If deep breathing sounds simple - that’s because it is! Breathwork has been used in yoga and meditation practice for thousands of years because it activates the body’s relaxation state. The key to these tools is to practice often so that your body recognises the exercise and relaxes your nervous system quickly.


We think you’ll like these other resources too...

Email illustration

Join the list.

Every two weeks our community newsletter is released to spark curiosity about the world around you and challenge your thinking. Sound good?