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2-10 minutes


Multiple times daily


Bell, singing bowl, chimes, or calming sound from an app


To help students adopt strategies will help them self-regulate and calm feelings of anxiety when needed

Breathing reduces stress and can help regulate emotions and stress when used properly. Have a discussion about the importance of taking time to listen to our bodies.

Ask students:

  • What do you hear when you listen to your body (e.g., your heart, your breath, your blood pumping, your thoughts, etc.)?
  • Why might this be important?
  • What could those things tell us about your day? Your feelings? Your thoughts?

Say to students:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. You can relax your hands in your lap.
  • You can close your eyes if you are comfortable or look down in your lap.
  • At the sound of the bell, breathe in through your nose.
  • When you think the sound has stopped, exhale.
  • Repeat.

After the activity, have students reflect on how they feel now (e.g.., what they felt or thought, whether they are more relaxed, where or when they might use this practice every day, etc.).

Guided breathing exercises are an effective tool to help students regulate emotions (Metz et al., 2013). Specifically, Embry & Biglan (2008) state that when practising nasal breathing (i.e. breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth) cognitive function is improved, while feelings of panic, anxiety, and hostility are reduced. Interventions that decrease physiological arousal, so the emotion and anxiety students feel becomes less intense, help students to refocus their attention on learning (Gregoski et al., 2011).

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review, 11(3), 75–113. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Gregoski, M. J., Barnes, V. A., Tingen, M. S., Harshfield, G. A., & Treiber, F. A. (2011). Breathing Awareness Meditation and Life Skills Training Programs Influence Upon Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Sodium Excretion Among African American Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(1), 59-64. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.05.019

Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The Effectiveness of the Learning to BREATHE Program on Adolescent Emotion Regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252-272. doi:10.1080/15427609.2013.818488