How a Practice of Deep Breathing Can Strengthen Your Sobriety

The practice of mindfulness through meditation can help you on your journey to stay sober. Mediation starts with an involuntary action that we already do every day: breathing. Let’s look at some benefits of deep breathing and methods that can help you while recovering from a substance use disorder.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

Practicing mindfulness creates a mental state where you’re actively aware of your emotions and what triggers them, allowing you to create your own personalized coping methods. This is where deep breathing can help, as it gives you the chance to meditate, which leads to a relaxed state of mindfulness. Deep breathing slows your heart rate as more oxygen enters your bloodstream, which gives you multiple benefits for both body and mind. A slower heart rate helps you relax, which raises endorphin levels. This acts as a natural form of pain and stress relief, allowing you to reduce anxiety and sleep more peacefully. Deep breathing is the perfect coping mechanism because not only is it natural, it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Just perform the exercises whenever you need to and relieve the stressors that can trigger a relapse.

Practice Deep Breathing Every Day

Set a time to practice deep breathing each day so you can use it as a coping tool regularly and effectively. Pick a comfortable spot within your home, whether it’s your bed or one of your favorite comfortable chairs. Make sure you’re in comfortable clothes, and that you’re able to keep your posture straight whether sitting or laying down. Close your eyes, and make sure not to force it. It can be as little as ten minutes, but practicing daily can help improve its effects when relieving stress from a triggering situation.

Use Breathing Techniques

How you breathe is an important element of this relaxation technique. There are various ways to exercise deep breathing you can try. Below are three different techniques to get you started.

4-7-8 Breathing

This type of breathing is also called relaxing breath. The 4-7-8 is a technique based on a specifically timed breathing pattern.

  • First, breathe in for 4 seconds,
  • Next, hold your breath for 7 seconds,
  • Finally, exhale for 8 seconds.

Creating a rhythmic pattern can help calm down your mind as it gives you something to focus on besides your stress. This method can especially help you sleep soundly at night, as it can help calm and relax your mind during the stages of REM sleep.

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing helps you slow down your breathing by using your diaphragm muscles, giving you a chance to catch your breath.

  • Start with the position of your hands, as you place one hand on your belly right below your ribs and the other right on your chest.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose and let your belly push your hand out. Make sure your chest doesn’t move during this process.
  • Finally, breathe out through pursed lips, as if you’re whistling. Take your time with each breath and repeat the process between three to 10 times.

Morning Breathing

You can try this method the moment you wake up, as it’ll relieve muscle stiffness and help you start the day in a relaxed state of mind.

  • Make sure you’re standing up straight before bending over at the waist with your knees slightly bent and your arms dangling.
  • As you inhale slowly, roll up to a standing position.
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds, then return to your previous position as you exhale.

Take Five Minutes 

One of the biggest advantages of deep breathing techniques is that it doesn’t require that much time to be effective. Sometimes, all you need is five minutes to take a deep breath and slow everything down. It can also allow you to dedicate a portion of the day to your mental health needs, allowing you to find the best way to relax. If you feel the anxiety growing, take a seat nearby and run through a couple of exercises. Five minutes can turn a stress-filled day into something you can face head-on, helping you maintain sobriety long-term.

Stay Consistent

Repeated patterns of healthy coping mechanisms can help you develop a habit, ingraining the benefits of deep breathing into your mind. Learning your triggers is the first step to recovery. The next step involves taking action when you feel anxiety or stress come on. Give yourself the time and space to practice deep breathing whenever you need to, and experiment with various breathing techniques so you can find the one that’s right for you.

Addiction can take a toll on your body, mind, and spirit. If you or your loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder and looking for inpatient rehab near Rhode Island, contact our rehab admissions navigators .



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