Breathing Can Reduce Stress

I was walking down the street the other day when I saw a smoker standing on the street corner. He took a long drag from the end of his cigarette. Held his breath and then slowly exhaled, and caressed a steady stream of smoke with his lips. He looked totally at peace.

Have you ever seen that?

This was a smoker who was practicing deep breathing exercises without knowing it.

Deep breathing is an effective tool for relaxation and are one of the tools I teach people when they quit smoking here in Utah.

Deep breathing techniques have been used for centuries to calm the body and mind. They are especially useful for people who quit smoking.

You know that daily stress from work pressures and personal issues can be overwhelming. Have you ever taken a smoke break just to deal with the stress of it all?

Many people often tell me that smoking helps reduce stress. Some of that might come from the nicotine and its (dopaminergic) effects in the emotional midbrain (ventral tegmental area), but some of that simply happens as you walk outside, take a deep breath, pause and slowly exhale.

So when you are quitting, your natural smoking-related, deep breathing exercises for stress relief need to be replaced. At least if you are like most people, when you quit smoking in Utah or elsewhere, you start “jonesing” due to nicotine withdrawals.

And that doesn’t help. No one wants to be around you when you get that way.

But deep breathing helps to relieve some of this stress and calms the body. It is simple and easy, and takes only a three to five minutes to be effective, to feel better.

Are you willing to give it a try?

Find a quiet place to sit down, keep your back straight. Close your eyes and imagine a brightly colored balloon in your abdomen–a relaxing color. Place a hand on your stomach and breathe in through your nose.

As you breathe in, imagine the balloon slowly expanding in your abdomen. With the hand on your stomach, you can feel your belly expanding as well.

When your belly and chest have fully expanded, hold the breath comfortably for a few seconds or a brief pause. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth.

Repeat the process, taking in several deep breaths over a few minutes. As you are breathing in deeply, letting your whole chest fill with air, perhaps you might think about a relaxing scene like a flower garden, a cabin in the woods or a serene lake.

What would you see there? What would you hear? How would your body feel? Imagine that as vividly as you can while you breathe.

This deep breathing technique combines meditative imagery with the process of sending air deep into your abdomen so that your lungs are fully expanded.

You can do this any time you need a “break” throughout the day. All you need is a chair, three minutes and a quiet place where you can be alone for a few minutes. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

What is more, it has proven to be incredibly helpful for new non-smokers.


Hypnosis Expert William Wood teaches clients stress busing techniques to people who want to quit smoking in Utah in his Ogden office. He also works with clients all over the US and Canada via telephone and web conferencing. If you would like to book an appointment or get more information you can call our office at 385-432-0729.