mental health

Calming breathing exercises to help you relax

Breathing for calm

Slow, controlled breathing is a super effective way to calm yourself in the moment. And, it can be done almost anywhere, without other people noticing! Calming breathing exercises are something you can do immediately if you feel anxious, but often we aren’t aware of our body enough to respond to these feelings in time. But deep, calming breaths done periodically throughout the day can get you into the habit, and reduce your overall background level of stress.

The latest version of Wellburrito has two different guided breathing exercises built in, which you can use to help calm you down or just generally relax. Breathing exercises in Wellburrito are 100% free to all users.

Square breathing

Square breathing is a very simple practice where you move through four stages:

  1. Breathe in (4 seconds)
  2. Hold (4 seconds)
  3. Breathe out (4 seconds)
  4. Hold (4 seconds)

Each stage lasts for the same amount of time.

The advantage of square breathing is that it’s a very simple count which you can easily repeat over and over in your head. It’s famous for being used by US Navy Seals to keep them calm in high pressure situations, so it must be effective!

7/11 breathing

The name 7/11 breathing refers to the rhythm of the breaths. In 7/11 breathing, the idea is to breathe in for a count of 7, then breathe out for a count of 11. So the defining feature of 7/11 is that the exhale is longer than the inhale. Don’t get too caught up on the exact timings, though. You can use other counts, like 5/8 or even 5/7, if you find it easier to begin with. After all, a count to 11 is quite a long time!

7/11 breathing is more complicated than square breathing, but may be more effective. The focus is on lengthening the exhale. Studies show that the exhale is what calms the body by stimulating the vagus nerve.

Wellburrito supports both 7/11 and 5/8 timings.


A few minutes practise of either of the calming breathing techniques above should result in your body and mind relaxing. You can continue with them for as long as you like, but you should aim for at least three minutes.

As you can see above, calming breathing practices are both similar and varied! The slow exhale of 7/11 breathing might be more effective for you, but you might prefer the cadence of square breathing.