Conscious Breathing: A Simple Stress-Management Tool for Caregivers

It's never too late to add another self-calming tool in your ongoing efforts to find something -- anything! -- to better help you manage daily stress. "Conscious breathing" is an easy breathing technique that comes from integrative medicine pioneer Andrew Weil -- and best of all, you can do it with your loved one right in the same room.

How to do it:

  • Breathe in through your nose for a count of four.

  • Hold for a count of seven.

  • Then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight as a "whooshing" sound comes out.

  • Repeat this series at least four times in a row.

Why does it work? Paced breathing is thought to trigger the relaxation response, which counteracts the stress response we're all much more familiar with.


Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio


almost 4 years, said...

It was a reminder of this breathing technique.


over 4 years, said...

COUNTING the breaths AND. . . while you are holding your breath, simultaneously thinking, "Let my shoulders droop." Your mind can't do too many things at once, so while it is working you through your relaxation, it turns away from the stress-making-issue(person) and while they wind up, you are winding down. YOU WIN!


over 5 years, said...

This is new to me. Will try it ... if I can remember to in the heat of the moment.


over 5 years, said...

The breathing gives you time to calm down,


over 5 years, said...

I have heard of using breathing techniques in dealing with stress but I never knew the actual count when breathing in, holding, and breathing out. This is helpful


over 5 years, said...

too simple, everyone knows this already and it is not that effective in my experience


over 5 years, said...

I will try it, thanks. I'll try anything that can get rid of the tight strings in my neck.


over 5 years, said...

As a Crisis Management Consultant I have long known and advised this simple but effective technique.


almost 6 years, said...

This morning has been unusually stressful--tried the breathing exercises and it did seem to help. Thanks!


over 6 years, said...

Yes the breathing does help relax :-D


over 6 years, said...

Today I had a few minutes when I thought I can't handle this now, how am I going to handle things when my spouse gets a lot worse. Tried the breathing technique and feel I will be breathing this way quite frequently.