• Shared by Erin Matthews, LSW

    Student Assistance Program Liason

    The COAD Group

    Coping Skills Home Practice:  Deep Breathing

    Deep Breathing

    Benefits of Deep Breathing:  When we are feeling anxious or stressed our breathing quickens and is very shallow.  This type of breathing increases anxiety.  When we practice breathing more deeply it can help relieve our anxiety, and help us feel calm.  Deep breathing relaxes our muscles and allows more oxygen to enter our body and our brain.  When we are calm we can think more clearly and choose healthy ways to manage our stress.

    Steps for practicing Deep Breathing:

    • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Place your hand on your abdomen/stomach.  Pretend there is a round balloon in your abdomen


    • Inhale and think about your breath filling that balloon in your abdomen. As you inhale, let your abdomen rise and make room for your breath


    • Think about this breath filling your body with fresh air, filling the bottom of the balloon first, then the top as you fill your lungs from the bottom up


    • Exhale by gently pressing down on your abdomen as you visualize pushing the air out of the balloon from the bottom up, emptying the balloon first, then your lungs and chest


    • Repeat these steps slowly for two minutes


    • Practice your breathing even when you aren’t feeling stressed, as this is good prevention to help ourselves feel more balnced. You may also use this technique as intervention, or in the moment when you are feeling your stress increase.


    • Keep trying. At first deep breathing may feel awkward or seem silly to you.  As you keep practicing and reminding yourself to use this technique… you will find that it really works!

     For Middle School and High School students:

    “My Calm Place” card deck combines yoga, meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery activities to calm emotions and promote self-regulationPractice strategies from “My Calm Place” card deck:

    • “Clouds Passing”: To clear your mind, breathe deeply.  Watch your thoughts like clouds passing in the sky.  Without clinging to them let the thoughts float by.


    • “Choose to Lose a Minute”: Don’t rush, choose to lose a minute.  Breathe in for 4 counts, and out for 4 counts.  Imagine the sky, the breeze, rain or trees.  Slow down, be in this moment.


    • “HA Mountain”: Inhale and raise your arms.  Pull your arms down and exhale, saying “HA!”  Stand still and tall like a mountain.  Listen to the silence of your body.

     For Middle and High School students:

    “Growing Mindful” card deck provides unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness and curiosity.  Practice strategies from “Growing Mindful” card deck

    • “7/11 Breath”:  Breath in for 7 counts (counting on your fingers).  Breathe out for 11 counts (counting on your finger).  Repeat


    • “The Three R’s”: Rest your awareness on the breath.  Recognize when and where it wanders.  Return your awareness to the breath. 


    • “Feel Your Feet”: Take in a deep breath.  Imagine the air going all the way down to your feet.  Feel the sensations of your feet against the floor. 

     Positive Coping Strategies/Fun Activities: Choose a few activities you would like to do this week...

    • Listen to music mindfully
    • Go for a walk, run or bike ride
    • Lie down and look at the clouds, find different shapes
    • Read
    • Draw, Paint
    • Color
    • Play in instrument
    • Spend some time outdoors, enjoy nature
    • Spend time with a pet
    • Play a game
    • Write a story about a fun memory you have
    • Baking/Cooking
    • Send a card or letter to a friend or family member (through the mail)
    • Practice a sport outside
    • Make a meal for your family
    • Practice deep breathing, relaxation techniques
    • Listen to Guided Meditation
    • Write something you are grateful for each day
    • Send a thank you note or card
    • Call a friend or family member (on the phone) just to say hi
    • Practice an instrument and then record yourself playing; share with family and friends
    • Play a game with friends or family through video chat
    • Organize or clean your room
    • Watch a funny movie
    • Send a video message instead of a text
    • Draw or color a picture and send a “picture card”…“Thinking of You”, “Happy Birthday,”etc.
    • Imagine a goal you have for your future, write a story (with you as the main character) achieving that goal