If you've ever utilized Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), you know that, between rounds of tapping on your meridian endpoints, you take in long, slow, deep breaths. Doing so accomplishes two main things, which make it that much easier to find the calm and peace you seek by using EFT.
First, in the ancient Eastern belief system on which EFT is based, it's believed that the long, slow, deep breaths circulate positive energy throughout your body. Since the main goal of EFT is to release blockages in order to get that positive energy flowing again, the breaths encourage the accomplishment of that goal.
In addition to that, however, the breaths serve a physical purpose. One of the things that change automatically when you're stressed or anxious, is that your breathing becomes shallower and more rapid. Your primitive mind—the deepest part of your subconscious mind—triggers the shallow breathing in order to divert more energy into your arms and legs, which it believes you will need in order to fight or run from the threat it thinks you are under.
If you make the conscious choice to take long, slow, deep breaths, you can override the stress or anxiety if you're already experiencing it, or, even better, you can avoid it before it begins. It's a simple, but quite effective way to live a calmer, less stressful life.
Normally, when we don't think about our breathing, our chests and shoulders rise and fall with each breath. That type of breathing is enough to keep you alive, of course, but it's a shallow breath. Since your body automatically converts to shallow breathing during stress or anxiety, you already have a subconscious association between the two, and if you breathe shallowly, you're more likely to be triggered into stress or anxiety that much more easily.
Proper breathing requires some practice. Take a few moments several times a day, and imagine drawing your breath all the way down to the very bottom of your abdomen, the area below your navel. It will likely be awkward at first, but it's worthwhile to practice. It can be helpful to place your hand on that area and imagine drawing the breath down to your hand. It can also help to lie on your back when you practice.
If you've ever noticed how a baby breathes, you've seen the baby's stomach rise and fall instead of the chest and shoulders. Apparently we are born with the ability to breathe properly, but when we begin to sit or stand up, our breathing shifts up.
Do yourself the favor of practicing proper breathing. Whether you're using it in conjunction with EFT or on its own, it will be something you're grateful you took the time to do.