You’re thinking “Great, another hippie post about breathing making shit better….I already breathe dude, leave me alone”. First, stop being so close-minded, and don’t ever call me a hippie again. You can be so difficult sometimes.
Second, the act of breathing itself isn’t what’s helpful here; it’s the potential to use breath as an object of attention. One really effective breathing exercise comes from DBT – Observing Breath (found here). Breath is ideal because it connects to our 5 senses (if it’s cold enough you can see your breath) and its dynamic, moving. You can use Observing Breath as a way of distracting from provocative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, impulses, and situations. You can even modify Observing Breath exercises to fit into real-world situations so that you don’t let on that you’re using a skill.
Observing Breath with Counting, for example, is a super easy way of getting your shit together-
Sit cross-legged on the floor (sit in the half or full lotus position if you know how); or sit in a chair with your feet on the floor; or kneel or lie flat on the floor, or take a walk.
As you inhale, be aware that “I am inhaling.”
When you exhale, be aware that “I am exhaling.”
Remember to breathe from the stomach.
When breathing the second inhalation, be aware that “I am inhaling.”
Slowly exhaling, be aware that “I am exhaling.”
Continue on up and through 10. After you have reached 10, return to 1.
If you lose count, return to 1.
If you’re interested in learning more about DBT, check out the DBT Self Help site, it does a really great job of explaining skills and how to apply them in an understandable, practical way.