This is part of the relaxation techniques series.


The most basic skill you need to allow yourself to calm down quickly and relax is controlled breathing. Taking your breathing under conscious control for some time distracts from other stressful thoughts you might have. Some breathing techniques have fast tranquilizing effect. I suggest the following breathing exercise:

  • If possible, lie down or at least sit comfortably.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate your attention on your nostrils, where air enters the nose.
  • Take a slow and deep breath in through your nose. Notice how the air is cold, entering your nose.
  • Hold your breath for a seconds holding your attention on the same spot.
  • Breath out slowly and quietly through the nose. Notice how the air is warm on your nostrils on the way out.
  • Do this for a few minutes, until you let disturbed thoughts go and feel relaxed.

The above exercise uses several techniques to calm you:

  • Closing eyes and getting in a comfortable position already induces a little relaxation.
  • Slow breathing with a stop in middle reduces the heard rate. It is especially useful when you feel agitated for some reason and need to calm down fast. You might do this at times of pressure, without all the preliminary steps, if there’s no time or place for them.
  • Concentrating on the cold and warm air moving through the nostrils occupies the mind and distracts you from other, negative thoughts, you might have. See also technique #8, Thought substitution for calming and relaxation.