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May 23, 2016

Deep Breath. Fresh Start

We’ve all been there. That moment when stress builds to a point where we shut down. A point when our focus is gone and we seek to separate ourselves from everything.  Unlike any number of computer programs, it’s not like we can just hit a ‘reset’ button and focus returns. However, it has long been recognized that breathing exercises, a relatively simple device for people to employ, reduce stress and anxiety (Jerath et. Al. 2015: 110).

For those seeking breathing technique options, there are certainly enough to choose from: Abdominal, 4-7-8, Sudarshan Kriya, Pranayama, etc. One of my greatest concerns is test-based stress and how my students will be able to relax during a test (some of the aforementioned breathing techniques would not go over to well during an exam, likely causing stress and/or frustration for other test takers). Yet, for such instances, simply taking deep breaths can provide some relief from stress and anxiety an individual is enduring.

The important thing is for individuals to breathe and then start fresh with tackling the problem or situation before her/him. That fresh start just might be enough to get an individual through the immediate situation while also providing practice on how to mitigate similar stress in the future.


Jerath R, Crawford MW, Barnes VA, Harden K. Self-Regulation of Breathing as a Primary Treatment for Anxiety.Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 2015; 40:107-115

van der Merwe H, Parsotam A. School Principal Stressors and a Stress Alleviation Strategy Based on Controlled Breathing. Journal of Asian and African Studies. 2011; 47(6):666-78.
Neil O’Donnell is a Senior EOP Counselor at Buffalo State College where he provides personal, academic and career counseling for students during and after their undergraduate journey. Neil also devotes time to educating communities about Obsessive-compulsive Disorder through discussion of his own battle with OCD. Additionally, Neil is an author of books including The Career-Minded Student and Bellwood, OCD and Me. You can find more of his career and stress management advisement at




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