Diaphragmatic Breathing – How To Do Belly Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing For Anxiety Relief

If you suffer from anxiety, you would have heard many times over – breathe deeply. That sounds easy, after all we were born to breathe…but most of us don’t breathe deep, we take shallow breaths. Is that normal or natural? Should we breathe deeply?

Belly Breathing Technique

Diaphragmatic Breathing
Take a look at the diagram. Take note of how the woman is breathing in her chest on the left and her abdomen is ‘in’ – and how on the right-hand side, she is breathing way down deep into her abdomen, which therefore ‘expands’.

  • Some argue that deep breathing techniques aren’t necessarily a good thing, others say it is.
  • My chiropractor told me I don’t breathe deep enough and that most women don’t. So I was told for better health, learn to breath with my diaphragm.

How could we not breath naturally the right way? We inhale and exhale…right?

Well, most of us breathe as if we have a tight belt strapped on. We breathe in the top of our chest only. I always think of the women in the ‘olden’ days wearing their tight, restrictive corsets. No wonder they had fans flapping to give them more oxygen.

I would have hated suffering from anxiety and panic attacks in those days – they would have not been able to do any deep breathing techniques successfully, that’s for sure.

So now I am going to try and explain how you should breathe if you want to try belly breathing.

How Do You Do Belly Breathing?

I find the easiest way is to place one hand on your stomach, near your navel, or just above. This is so you can feel your diaphragm working. If you take a few deep breaths you should be able to feel the rise and fall of your lower abdomen. I also like to start by pushing out all the air in my lungs. So I exhale and squeeze it all out. It’s just something I like to do after hearing from an exercise fitness expert that we can have stale air sit in our lungs if we don’t breathe deeply. So why not clean it all our first?

Let me give you a few easy steps.

  • You can do belly breathing sitting on a chair or laying down. It really is your own personal preference.
  • Look at the photograph above and place your hand on your abdomen (or diaphragm, which is near the base of your rib-cage). You can place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest if you find that better to gauge your breath. Place your thumb around your navel.
  • Next breathe slowly through your nose and feel your abdomen push outwards. Your breath should be pushing your diaphragm down not your rib cage out. (Again look at the diagram above…is your stomach extended or are you breathing ‘up high’?) Now count to yourself as you breathe in.
  • Next slowly exhale through your mouth…slower than the ‘in breath’. Slow in, slower out.
  • Do about 3 or 4 deep breaths. It may feel strange, especially if you are not used to it. My sister actually felt quite sick when she started breathing like this when she was learning Tai Chi.

Diaphragmatic Breathing
Wikipedia Image – Diaphragmatic Breathing Animation.

How Does Deep Breathing Benefit You?

So does deep breathing benefit you? Teachers of Hatha Yoga Pranayama are incredible with their breaths. They hardly breath at all. Slow in and very slow exhalation. You can hardly see them breath at all!

For people suffering with a fear of anxiety, deep breathing is considered a simple, natural anxiety relief technique. Why? It is because anxiety sufferers are known to hyperventilate when having an anxiety or panic attack and to regain some calmness it helps to take deep breaths. (Hyperventilation is when there is an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.)

So by taking deep breaths you are less likely to upset that all important balance. You will be able to maintain a sense of calm and the body won’t react to a lack of oxygen…so you can stop that panic attack in its tracks…a huge benefit, wouldn’t you agree?

I always love to hear your results or efforts. So try it right now – sitting or lying down – and tell me how you go in the comment section below!


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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.


  1. Thank you so much for this article Jennifer, I will definitely try this technique!

  2. I did it and it is very relaxing! But it did hurt my belly a little bit!

  3. lol jen, its supposed to hurt your belly??? its suppose to hurt!!!!

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Your diaphragm is a muscle! If you over exercised it, yes it can, just like any muscle does. So my guess is you found the spot and worked it 🙂

      You can ‘lower’ the exertion. You must have been pushing it out ‘well’. 🙂

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