Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress at Work

The pandemic has caused a re-imagining of our work environment. Employers have developed plans to bring employees back to work safely, giving careful thought to schedules, seating configurations, visitor policies, elevator usage etc. However, it is not just physical well-being that employers must consider. Equally important is how businesses will respond to employees’ emotional and psychological health. As an employer, not only do you have a duty of care to protect the mental and physical well-being of employees, but you will also benefit from having happy and healthy people work for your business.


Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) is a confidential counselling programme, which operates primarily within the workplace to assist and identify employee concerns. 

  • Turn to Me provides professional support in a safe community, delivered by fully qualified and accredited mental health professional. This support is delivered in a confidential and anonymous medium. This programme is increasingly sought by employers, as Mental Health and Wellbeing is an intrinsic part of our social, emotional, and physical functioning. 

  • WorkPositive Tool is a confidential free online tool developed by the HSA that allows businesses to explore ways to improve employee wellbeing. It helps identify and measure psychosocial risks and workplace stressors.  

While EAP’s are not always feasible for small firms due to fewer resources, support can be provided to employees by informing them of stress-management techniques and cognitive strategies such as breathing exercises. Employers should encourage their employees to set aside 15 minutes every day for breathing exercises to wind down.


Deep Breathing:

  • Get comfortable
  • Breathe in through your nose until your belly fills with air
  • Breathe out slowly through your nose
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly and breathe in
  • The hand on your stomach should rise more than the one on your chest
  • Breathe out and feel your belly lower
  • Repeat three more times

There are studies which show that breathing exercises were most effective for both immediate and long-term stress reduction. One study at Yale presented four programmes, all of which had participation from students.  

  • SKY Breath Meditation: a comprehensive series of breathing and meditation exercises over several days which is designed to induce calm and resilience. 
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: a meditation technique in which you train yourself to be aware of each moment in a non-judgmental way. 
  • Foundations of Emotional Intelligence: teaches techniques to improve emotional awareness and regulation. 
  • Control group (no intervention) 

The participants who practiced SKY Breath Meditation experienced the greatest mental health, positive emotions, and stress reduction. It was beneficial in terms of immediate impact on stress, mood, and conscientiousness, and these effects were even stronger when measured three months later. Simple techniques such as these can help one sustain greater wellbeing and reduce stress levels.


It is important to recognise stress-related issues and help your employees find ways to mitigate stress at work. Visit the HSE’s website for breathing techniques, or our SFA website for information and advice on managing employee’s mental health and if you have any queries in relation to employee’s wellbeing you can contact Emma Crowley on 01 6051668 or 

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Digg Yammer
In this issue
SFA Fortnightly Update
SFA in the media
Remote Working Strategy
Public consultation on Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect
Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress at Work
Reduced VAT rate to end
Skillnet Ireland Masterclasses & Workshops
Business Connect 2021
FHM Business Coaching Workshop: 4 Ways to Improve Your Business
Ireland's 24 Hour Economy