3 Ways to Help You Breathe Through the Holidays

Make this Season Cheery and Bright With a Regulated Nervous System

Mary Clymer
6 min readDec 4, 2023

The holidays often come wrapped in high expectations, a hectic schedule, and overwhelm. Simple, effective breathing practices can help you stay present, find connection, and enjoy the season more fully.

Taking a few minutes to practice deep breathing in the morning, before a social gathering, shopping, or family time can be the perfect antidote to keep your nervous system in balance. Ensuring that you have a healthy and mindful holiday season.

Your relationship with your breath is one of the most important relationships you will ever have. It’s there with you from the moment you arrive on this earth and remains your constant companion until your final breath.

What’s fascinating is that it isn’t something we learn, so we end up taking it for granted. Unlike walking, talking, or properly using a toilet, we are never praised for breathing correctly because we are born with our breath. Because of this it doesn’t get any attention, so we never learn how to properly use our lungs, our diaphragm, or our body, to order to function optimally.

We learn to breathe by matching the breath of our parents, and community. And if you were raised in a stressful home or during a stressful event, then your breath will reflect that, and breathing in a stress state becomes what feels normal and natural to you.

Breath and Emotion

Every breath pattern you have is associated with a different emotional state. So whatever emotions you are used to living in dictate how you breathe.

We all know the importance of pausing to notice how and where you’re breathing. You’ve heard of the numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

Some of the more obvious benefits are…

  • Stress Reduction
  • Improved Mental Clarity
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Better Sleep
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Decreased inflammation

But it goes far beyond that. Connecting to your breath in as little as 5 minutes a day can also…

  • Aid Digestion
  • Enhance Physical Performance
  • Purify blood
  • Improve Respiratory Health
  • Support the Immune System

Because the lungs are a natural purifier, they are continually helping you detox harmful pollutants in the body. By practicing conscious breath practices you are fostering a healthy relationship between your mind and your body, helping your nervous system to stay in balance and deepening your connection to self.

By practicing various breathing practices you are training your nervous system to show up calm in an otherwise stressful situation.

During the holidays this can be especially beneficial, as we anticipate common triggers in our programming from childhood, and learn to stay in control, balanced, and calm, by grabbing from this toolbox.

Below are 3 breathing practices to help you balance the nervous system, calm the mind and body during stressful holiday moments, and optimize your breath for better focus as your schedule gets busy and full.


Three-part breathing helps you to utilize all parts of your breathing muscles. Both your main (diaphragm) and your secondary (ribcage) and accessory (chest) muscles.

It slows your breathing down and keeps it steady. It promotes calm controlled breathing.

  • Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest
  • Take a deep slow breath through your nose filling your belly.
  • Practice this a couple of times, in for a 4 count, out for a 4 count.
  • Once comfortable with this as you inhale fill up your belly and let that widen up into your ribcage.
  • Practice this a couple of times, in for 4, and out for 4.
  • Once comfortable with this follow your breath from your belly to your ribcage and allow the chest cavity to spread at the top of the breath.
  • As you exhale, let the air move first out of the chest, then out through the ribcage, and finally out through the belly.
  • Continue breathing deeply into your belly, ribcage, and chest
  • Exhaling from your chest, ribcage, and belly.
  • Continue for 7–10 rounds

Although simple this breathing pattern is super effective and can have a tremendous impact on balancing out your nervous system. It’s a great practice to try before a family gathering, when in a long line at the grocery or shopping mall, and before you go to sleep.

Triangle Breathing

Triangle Breathing is a calm and controlled way to settle your nervous system. It’s perfect to do before a meeting, exam, or a hard conversation.

Imagine an upside-down triangle,

  • Starting at the bottom point we will inhale as we move up the right side and count to four.
  • The top of the triangle is four counts with a hold moving towards the left side,
  • and the left side of the triangle is four counts out.
  • So it’s a 4–4–4.
  • Repeat 7–10 rounds

Breathe in and out through the nose, deep into the belly. Get used to doing this breath and then see if you can add on the 3-part-breathing technique listed above.

Triangle breathing slows the breath down to roughly 5 breaths per minute. This guides the nervous system into a parasympathetic (rest & digest) state. Which is the perfect way to slow your mind down while releasing stress from the body with every exhale.

Box Breathing

Very similar to triangle breathing except we’re going to add a 4 count at both the top AND the bottom of the exhale.

Here’s how it works

  • Inhale for a 4-count
  • Hold at the top of your breath for a 4-count
  • Exhale for a 4-count
  • Hold empty of air for a 4-count

That’s one round. Inhale and repeat the whole process.

Use the elongated pauses or holds to survey the body and begin to recognize and release tension. In stillness, we become more aware of tightness, stagnation, and stress held in our tissues. Box breathing offers a beautiful opportunity to identify this tension and then begin to exhale it out of the body.

This is an optimizing technique used by the Navy Seals that helps you focus and find control. It’s the perfect breath pattern to bring you to the here and now. With a lot going on this time of year, we want to be sure we are remembering to be present for all those special precious moments with family and friends.

Mindful breathing practices are a great way to slow down and find a deeper connection to each moment during the hustle and bustle of the season. Breathwork is a way to add more value to your life and all the blessings of the holiday. Helping you to be more present and mindful is a gift far more valuable than any gift under the tree.

If you’re ready to go deeper with your breath, download my 7-Day Breath Challenge, and find that deep sense of peace today.



Mary Clymer

Breathwork Coach, Pulmonaut Explorer, & Content Creator. Taking it one breath at a time. Join me at breath_mindset.com