Use this 3-second breathing technique to de-stress on or off the golf course

One breathing exercise can keep you calm in even the most stressful moments.

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Things in the world are pretty stressful right now for a number of reasons that I don’t need to expand on here. But that’s partly why it’s so nice to spend some time away from it all, in some solitude on the golf course. That’s only when you’re playing well, though. When your game starts going south, things can get immensely frustrating, and suddenly a round that was supposed to be refreshing has turned annoying.

We all have those days — alas, it’s one of those core things that we love about golf — and the next time it happens to you, remember this simple breathing technique from former professional football player and bestselling author Lewis Howes, which I caught while scrolling through TikTok.

How to de-stress in 3 seconds

All it takes is two steps. Repeat about four times, or however long it takes you to start feeling less stressed.

  1. Take two quick inhales through your nose
  2. Then take one long exhale through your mouth.

You can watch for yourself below:

It may sound deceptively simple, but there’s actually some good science backing the technique. The point of the two short breaths following one long exhale, is that it forces a 2-to-1 breathing pattern that has become commonplace in yoga. When your exhalations become short and you don’t utilize your full lung capacity with longer breaths, it can cause increase your blood pressure and cause other toxins to accumulate.

In simple terms, your heart rate goes up the more you inhale and drops the more you exhale, so when you make your exhalations longer than your inhalations, you’re re-balancing your circulatory system and releasing tension as a result. It’s why, as Harvard Business Review reports below, breathing is such an effective way of counteracting stress:

So what makes breathing so effective? It’s very difficult to talk your way out of strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or anger. Just think about how ineffective it is when a colleague tells you to ‘calm down’ in a moment of extreme stress. When we are in a highly stressed state, our prefrontal cortex — the part of our brain responsible for rational thinking — is impaired, so logic seldom helps to regain control. This can make it hard to think straight or be emotionally intelligent with your team. But with breathing techniques, it is possible to gain some mastery over your mind.

So whether you’re on the course or having a stressful day in the office, take a few seconds to monitor your breathing. It’s an easy way to shoot lower scores, and be happier even when you’re not!

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.