Did you know that we take 12-20 breaths per minute on average? It’s amazing to think that we have the natural powers to thrive simply by taking deep full breaths throughout our day. This is called paced breathing, which is slowing your breath down mindfully to focus on the length of the breath.

The purpose of our breath is to transport oxygen to our cells and to get rid of waste, such as carbon dioxide. Science reveals that your breath is an access point to regulating your nervous system. For instance, when we breathe steadily we can calm our nervous system. When we hold our breath, we build up carbon dioxide in our body, which causes cells and the respiratory center of our brain to become distressed.

Paced breath has the potential to calm your mind and body. This type of breathing exercise can be used in a pinch when you’re feeling overly exerted, anxious or distressed. Paced or slower breathing practices support greater brain function, an improved mood, hormone balance and the overall feeling of wellbeing.

Take a moment to listen to Dr. Tracy Gaudet’s 8-minute video, where she shares more about how breathing helps with healing and stress reduction. Dr. Gaudet introduces the 4-7-8 breathing technique to bring the body, mind and spirit back to a more balanced state. This technique focuses on paced breathing, allowing your exhale to be longer than your inhale. It can create a sense of relaxation in the mind and ease distress.

Find a quiet place to practice, make sure you’re seated comfortably with good posture, and try to keep your focus on your breath. If you do lose your focus during the practice, just simply return to your breath.

For more information on self-care through the Whole Health Components of Health and Well-Being, check out our videos here: Whole Health Videos – Whole Health (va.gov).

By Sara Grimsgaard, MHMS, NBC-HWC is a health systems specialist for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center and Whole Health Education Program in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

Share this story

Published on Jan. 10, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 2,313


  1. BOB January 15, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    Hey there KH. Have you ever thought about using a hearing aid? This program works well for me and when I don’t use my hearing aid, I just increase the volume on my device. Good luck

  2. Vivian Lee January 13, 2022 at 11:38 pm

    1 will try it tonight and see how it works. Think positive and stop the negative on everything people are trying to do to help.

  3. CJ Hill January 13, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Very well done. Took me from an agitated state of mind to very mellow and relaxed.
    Thank you! I needed that.

  4. J M Flint January 13, 2022 at 9:48 am

    Excellent concept to help with relaxation. Well presented,

    The video was completely ruined by the loud and invasive background noise. It was obviously a computer generated, cheap attempt at music. Totally unnecessary.

  5. kenneth hofmann January 12, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    very very low volume, basically useless

  6. Art Perez January 12, 2022 at 10:44 am

    Thank you watched and followed the video on the breathing exercise. I am recovering from Kovic 19, the breathing exercise help me relax . Thank you very much for the update of the exercise and information you sent to us veterans

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • How often do you make things harder than they must or should be? This week's episode of #LiveWholeHealth is a progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and lighten your load. 

  • When we have aches and pains, we often notice our body “talking” to us. This Tai Chi basic moves practice helps with those aches and pains before they begin.

  • Connecting mind and body is important for your overall whole health. Your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act and this is often called the “mind-body connection.”