Pause Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, please consult with a healthcare professional.

If you’re looking for a natural way to deal with anxiety and depression, then breathwork just might be what you’re lookin’ for, my friend. You see, breathing is something we do unconsciously every day, but it can also be used as a conscious tool to help regulate our nervous system! 

In this article, I’ll share two different Pause breathing exercises: one for anxiety and one for depression. We will also look at why breathwork is an excellent natural remedy for these conditions and provide tips on how to use it most effectively. So, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, I see you. And invite you to give these breathing exercises a try. They might just blow your mind (in the BEST way possible!)

Ready to dive in? First things first…

How to Know if you Have Anxiety or Depression

 First off let’s start with a disclaimer.. If you suspect you’re experiencing one of these conditions, reach out to a health care professional. 

And second, it’s important to understand that everyone experiences anxiety and depression differently. And there is no “right” or “wrong” way to experience either of these conditions. However, how you experience anxiety and depression can give clues as to whether your nervous system is more prone to anxious or depressive reactions when triggered or activated.

If you tend to experience anxiety more, you might:
  • Have a hard time relaxing or sitting still
  • Feel like your mind is constantly racing
  • Experience physical symptoms like a tight chest, tense muscles, or gastrointestinal distress
  • Avoid situations that make you feel anxious

From an energetic perspective, anxiety might feel like you are running “hot.” Things feel chaotic and sped up. The system can feel fiery, and energy can go out of the body and into the head. Is this resonating?

If you tend to experience depression more, you might:
  • Feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Experience a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Sleep more or have trouble sleeping
  • Struggle with concentration or decision-making
  • Experience physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, or body aches and pains
  • Find yourself withdrawing from social situations

From an energetic perspective, depression might feel like your system has collapsed. Things feel stagnant, lethargic, heavy, and slow. Like you’re cut off from your Higher Self and energy source. And it can feel like you’re trudging through molasses in a dense human form.

Understanding your natural energetic tendencies can be helpful because it means that you can start to get curious about why specific breathing exercises might work better for you than others. It also helps to set realistic expectations about what breathwork can do for you.
For example, if breathing exercises for anxiety are helping you to feel more calm and relaxed, that’s great! But don’t expect them to completely eliminate all traces of stress from your life forever. Instead, focus on the fact that you are allowing your nervous system to regulate itself- which is an incredibly valuable skill and can serve you well in the long run!

Using Breathwork as a Natural Remedy for Anxiety and Depression

Now that we’ve talked a bit about the signs of anxiety or depression, let’s talk about how breathing can help regulate the nervous system and why breathwork can be such an effective natural remedy for anxiety and depression.

As I’m sure you know, anxiety and depression are incredibly common mental health conditions that can have a major impact on our quality of life. And while there are many different treatments available, breathing exercises are an extremely effective way to help release both anxiety and depression naturally.

Breathwork can quickly and effectively reduce stress, improve mood, promote relaxation, and boost cognitive performance. And unlike some other treatments for anxiety and depression, breathwork is entirely natural. You are the drug.

So, how does it work?… let’s move on to the breathing exercises!

Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

Now that we know how breathing can help to reduce anxiety, let’s talk about a breathing exercise that you can do to help calm your nervous system.

This Pause breathing exercise is called the “Halo Active Breath.” It is a great way to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

To do this exercise:

  • Start by taking a deep slow breath through your nose, filling up your lungs.
  • Then, do a relaxed exhale through the mouth.
  • Optional: release a sound on the exhale to help move the anxious energy
  • Repeat, in through the nose, relaxed exhale (and sounding) out through the mouth for approximately 3 minutes.

– After 3 minutes, exhale all the air from your lungs and hold your breath until you feel the urge to breathe (this is called a “bottom hold”).

– When ready, slowly inhale through the nose and return to breathing normally.

(Want a demo of these techniques? Listen to this Podcast Episode.)

A note on shallow “bottom holds”: Shallow bottom holds are when we hold our breath at the bottom of the exhale. They help ground the energy down into the body and are perfect for people with more of an anxious system, as they help guide the energy down into the body & into the Earth. They might feel a little bit uncomfortable at first because most people aren’t used to holding their breath at the bottom, not the top. Still, this technique is a beautiful way to regulate the nervous system down so that we can introduce some more activating breath patterns later on if we desire.

Breathing Exercise for Depression

This next Pause breathing exercise is called the “Tri-Active Breath” and is a great way to help reduce depression and re-energize the body. This is a three-part breath pattern.

To do this exercise:

  • Breathe only through the mouth
  • Take 2 short breaths in; the first one into the belly, the second one into the chest
  • Then, one relaxed exhaled out through the mouth
  • Repeat for approximately 3 minutes
  • After three minutes, take a deep inhale and hold your breath at the top until you feel the urge to breathe (this is called a “top hold”).
  • When ready, slowly exhale through the mouth and return to breathing normally.

(Want a demo of these techniques? Listen to this Podcast Episode.)

A note on “top holds”: Deep top holds are held at the top of the breath after a deep inhale. When we do a deep top hold, the system’s energy comes up through the body and out through the head. Top holds are perfect for people who generally feel low, lethargic, or have a collapse in their energy field (someone more susceptible to depression rather than anxiety)

How Long to do Deep Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression

People always ask me, “Sam, how long should I do breathwork for?” And while there is no one-size-fits-all answer, I generally recommend starting with even just 1 minute, a couple of times a day, then increasing from there because we really wanna support our nervous system and titrate slowly.

Titration is the process of slowly and gradually increasing something. In this case, we’re slowly and gradually increasing our breathing rate & depth to help support our nervous system so that it doesn’t get overstimulated or re-traumatized.

Breathwork is one of the most extraordinary things for people who have experienced trauma, but we have to do it responsibly, which is why we have an amazing trauma teacher in our Pause Breathwork Facilitator Training Program.

And finally, as with everything else, be sure to self-pace. This means to go at your own speed, listen to your body, and stop if anything feels off.

I hope you enjoyed these breathing exercises for anxiety and depression! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out on Instagram @pausebreathwork. We’re always happy to help :).

With love,

Sam + Your Pals at Pause

PS. Did you know about the Pause Breathwork App? It’s a great way to get started with breathwork and be guided through these different breath patterns. You can check it out here.

PPS. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use breathwork for nervous system regulation, check out our Pause Breathwork Facilitator Training Program. We offer an online trauma-informed certification program that provides you with all the tools, resources, and support you need to start facilitating breathwork in your business and your community. Click here to learn more and sign up for our free training!


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