Breathing through stress

Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing technique that helps to increase oxygen in the body and decrease stress. When we’re stressed, we tend to only use the upper part of our lungs, or breathing with our upper chest. This shallow breathing causes a disruption in the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in our bodies and increases our anxiety.

Diaphragmatic breathing can be done at any time, and anywhere. You can check out the this link for guided breathing instructions or follow the simple list of steps.


  1. First, begin by breathing at your normal pace, inhaling and exhaling through the nose or exhaling through pursed lips.
  2. Rest one hand lightly on your abdomen just below your ribcage and one hand on your upper chest.
  3. As you inhale slowly, feel your stomach move outwards. When you exhale, feel your stomach sink inward. The hand on your chest should stay as still as possible.
  4. Continue to take deep breaths, feeling your stomach rise and fall. If you’re having trouble at first, try exaggerating the movements of your stomach.
  5. After awhile, you begin to feel more relaxed.

What does stress look like?



A certain level of stress is normal for everyone, especially college students. However, too much for too long may interfere with your academic performance and cause both physical and emotional issues. Here are some signs that your stress level might be crossing into an unhealthy zone:

  • Taking longer to fall asleep or waking up tired
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Increased frequency of headaches
  • Feeling more short-tempered
  • Recurring colds or minor illnesses
  • Muscles aches or tightness
  • Feeling more disorganized than usual
  • Increased difficulty in task completion
  • A greater sense of persistent time pressure
  • Increased generalized frustration and anger

If any of these signs persist for several weeks, you can try some stress management techniques, or reach out to someone on campus for support. Next week, we’ll bring you information on some easy techniques that will help manage your stress.

Welcome to Wellness

College is a difference experience for everyone. It’s easy to get caught up in class schedules, sports, clubs, volunteer work, homework, studying, and friends and forget about our own emotional, physical, and mental health. The SPU Wellness Initiative wants to help you in your journey through college and all address all the difficulties that you might face. Over the next few months, we’ll be bringing you information on stress, mental illness, and how to recognize and cope with those issues. Check back here for weekly updates!