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Learning Portal - Learning Online: Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress 

This module will explain breathing techniques that help with stress. When we are anxious or threatened our breathing speeds up in order to get our body ready for danger. Controlling our breathing can help manage stress.

Top Tips

Top Tips

✓ Practice regularly. Practice belly breathing regularly (i.e., 3-10 minutes, 3-5 times a day), even when you are not anxious.

✓ Practice whenever you can. Practice belly breathing on the bus, at home, and on campus so you are ready to use it when you’re anxious or during a big exam.

✓ Find the right count for you. If a four-second count doesn’t work for you, try a three-second count or a five-second count.

✓ Try belly breathing while lying down. Belly breathing can be difficult at first. Try lying down and placing a small object, like a book or a pillow, on your stomach. Breathe in slowly, trying to push the object up with your stomach. 

Helpful Apps

Helpful Apps 


Headspace is a guided meditation app that promotes mindfulness. Most of the content requires a subscription, but there are several guided meditation recordings available for free.


Buddhify is an app (iOS and Android) that provides categorized meditations based on what you’re doing or how you’re feeling, such as walking, stress, difficult emotions, work break, going to sleep, or waking up. 


Calm provides daily meditations through their web-based tool and app (iOS and Android) for reducing stress and anxiety, better sleep, managing emotions, and more. This tool is built for beginners and experienced meditators alike.


This app is a tool to help you identify and manage your stress. (Available for iPhone). 


This app is a problem-solving tool to help deal with emotions and cope with stress. (available for iPhone and Android).

Guided Belly Breathing

Guided Belly Breathing

Watch the video or follow the steps below to learn the belly breathing technique. Video by The Learning Portal and College Libraries Ontario, 2018. 


When we are anxious or threatened, our breathing speeds up in order to get our body ready for danger. Relaxed breathing signals that it is time to relax. This type of breathing is slower and deeper than normal and it comes from your belly.

  1. Start by sitting comfortably in a chair or lying down on your back.
  2. Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so.
  3. Breathe normally in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  4. Slow down your breathing. Inhale, slow and steady, to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and pause for the count of 4. This is also called square breathing. If a four-second count doesn’t work for you, try a three-second count or a five-second count.
  5. Are you belly breathing? Place one hand on your belly just below your ribs and one hand on your chest. Try to keep the top hand still as your breath should only move your bottom hand.



Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the NWP Learning Commons in April 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution. 

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