How Does Stress Affect Performance in Sports?

Not all stress is created equal — here’s what you need to know.

It’s normal for an athlete to feel stressed before a big game or a competition. If they didn’t feel stressed in the slightest, then one could argue that they were not prepared to give their best performance. This is similar to the inverted U theory and how athletes need to experience the optimal amount of arousal — not too much or too little — to perform at their best [1].

Too little stress/arousal and an athlete feels no sense of urgency or motivation to perform. On the other hand, too much stress can limit the athlete’s ability to focus and may cause them to choke or crumble under intense pressure. It’s all about finding balance!

This blog post will explain more about stress and how it affects performance in sports, beginning with more details on what causes stress, and tips to help you deal with stress in sports.

What causes stress in sports?

Everybody experiences stress, but athletes often experience it more than others. But why is this the case? Because it’s a balancing act — athletes need to balance training, competition, family commitments, relationships, and everyday life. And for college athletes (and other Elite athletes), you can throw school and work into the mix for a little extra chaos. 

And let’s not forget the intense public scrutiny that comes with being an Elite athlete.

These stressors are compounded by competition, especially during a big game, whether that’s the NBA finals, the PGA tournament, or a football game that decides who gets relegated.

With so many external factors inducing stress in athletes (and coaches), controlling the internal has never been more important. 

“If you do things to the limit, and don’t purposely go over that limit, then I think it’s fine to do whatever you want. So long as you enjoy it. That’s what’s important.” – Michael Schumacher.

How does stress affect sports performance?

Stress has a direct effect on sports performance. If an athlete feels too much pressure, the stress can get to them and cause them to freeze up, crumble under pressure, or make vital mistakes when it matters most.

It can also cause athletes to involuntarily tense up their muscles, leading to poor form and technique, may lead to cramp, among other issues.

To better demonstrate this intense pressure, let’s use the example of a presentation at work as it’s slightly more relatable for most people… it’s a slight diversion, but I promise it will be worth it…

You’ve been preparing for this presentation for a few weeks, rehearsing what you’re going to say, and running through the slides daily. But when it comes to actually delivering the presentation, you freeze up, you’re unsure of what you’re going to say next, and your mind goes blank.

This is the exact same thing that happens to athletes when they freeze up — but instead of not knowing what to say, they don’t know what to do, what play to make, where to pass, or what the next step is they should take. It’s like a deer caught in headlights. Athletes commonly freeze and choke, making crucial mistakes because of intense pressure.

How to deal with stress in sports

Okay, now that you know what causes stress and how it can directly affect an athlete’s performance, how do you deal with it? You can do numerous things to reduce stress and anxiety, from practicing deep breathing exercises and mindset recovery sessions to creating a pre-performance routine to increase familiarity and reduce stress. 

Below you’ll find a list of things you can do to help deal with stress in sports:

  • Perform deep breathing exercises
  • Create a pre-performance routine
  • Practice stressful situations in training 
  • Focus on getting the basics right (sleep, nutrition, etc.)
  • Visualize success

We’ll now break these tips down into more detail.

Perform deep breathing exercises

When people hear the words “deep breathing,” they often think of meditation. And while it can be a form of meditation, deep breathing exercises can also be used in those crucial moments; before taking a free kick, putting the ball in golf, or moments before toeing the line on the track.

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “belly breathing,” involves breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Studies show that this breathing technique can be useful to improve sustained attention while better regulating stress [2].

Practice and perform this breathing technique to help alleviate stress and anxiety, whether that’s before competition or something as simple as reducing stress before sleep.

Read more: Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief: How to Do 5-10 Breathing.

Create a pre-performance routine 

The best athletes have a pre-performance routine that they follow like a horse wearing blinders. A set routine increases familiarity, reduces stress, and allows the athlete to get into the right head space and mindset to perform at their best.

You can create your own routine by eliminating activities that cause stress, and replace these with activities that increase focus and concentration. For example, this could include deep breathing exercises, listening to your favorite playlist, mentally rehearsing what the performance will look and feel like, and so on.

It takes time to find a routine that works for you. But begin experimenting by adding/removing activities to best reduce stress and improve your mindset leading up to the performance. 

Practice stressful situations in training 

A lot of athletes do not experience intense stress until it matters most — the final few minutes of a game, during a penalty shootout, or when they are tied on points on the last hole on the green.

A great way to reduce stress is to practice these stressful situations in training to increase familiarity. For instance, if you know your muscles tense, you feel anxious, and your palms get sweaty when taking penalties, practice this in training to reduce stress when it matters most. Practice goes a long way!

You can also add techniques such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises during these intense moments so you have them in your toolkit — and know how to use them effectively — when you need them most.

Focus on getting the basics right

Although it may seem obvious, even Elite athletes need to get the basics right. We’re talking about sleep, nutrition, and recovery.

If one of these is out of whack, then stress may increase, and performance may decline. Get the basics right and then implement other techniques and mental skills, such as visualization — more on this below.

Visualize success 

Visualization is a powerful mental skill that many elite athletes use. It involves picturing yourself performing successful skill performance, whether that’s scoring a goal, passing the ball to a teammate down the wing, or saving a goal. 

Athletes use visualization to improve confidence, reduce stress and anxiety, and calm their nerves. 

Try a Rewire Stress Relief Session for Free

Use Rewire to reduce stress and improve performance 

Some level of stress is needed to improve performance. But too much stress — and not knowing how to control it — can cause an athlete to freeze, choke, or make vital mistakes when it matters most.

Rewire can help athletes reduce stress by tracking their physical, cognitive, and emotional states. Athletes gain access to science-backed protocols from sports psychology, such as guided breathing, pre-workout priming, visualization, and sleep protocols to improve performance and reduce stress and anxiety.

“I have been using the app for a few months. It has helped me set the proper mindset before workouts, disconnect before bedtime, and gauge my mental readiness on a daily basis.” – Matt Hanson (Professional Triathlete and Coach).

Find out how Rewire can help you


10 Books on Mindfulness Training to up Your Game

1) Mindfulness for Beginners (John Kabat-Zinn)

I first discovered Mindfulness for Beginners as a runner in university. I was fascinated by the idea of training the mind to unlock my potential. Fortunately, Kabat-Zinn’s work taught me that everything we need is already inside. In Mindfulness for Beginners, Kabat-Zinn gives an in-depth explanation of what it means to practice mindful attention in both an informal and formal way. He also gives one of the best operational definitions of mindfulness to start the book. Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as “paying attention to the present moment on purpose in a non-judgmental way.” He later goes on to describe how to practice each component of his definition (paying attention to the present, living intentionally and non-judgmental attitudes) by using stories and gives practical steps to advance your mindfulness practice. What I like so much about Kabat-Zinn is that it takes away the supernatural aspects that people may associate with practicing meditation and focuses on the real and now. This can be summed well by this line from Mindfulness for Beginners:

“The fact of the matter is that meditation is not about navel-gazing or giving up functioning in the world. Nor is it about giving up engaging passionately in projects of real value and getting things done, nor will it make you stupid or rob you of ambition or motivation.” (p. 80)

2) Wherever You Go, There You Are (John Kabat-Zinn, MD)

Wherever you go, there you are is another great book written by Kabat-Zinn. In case you were unaware, Kabat-Zinn started the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction medical model back in the 80s and 90s which has been effective in pain management for several chronic diseases. This book digs into his philosophy and years of practice by giving brief passages to reflect on while practicing meditation. One of my favorite lines from this book talks about how telling people about how you’re meditating kills your momentum and motivation to mentally train. In the words of Kabat-Zinn, “It’s best to meditate without advertising.”

3) Mindfulness on the Go: Simple meditation practices you can do anywhere (Jan Chozen Bays, MD)

After reading the intros to the first two books on this list, you may think, “How  am I supposed to do this? I hate sitting as it is, now I have to pay attention to it?” Well, it’s a lot simpler than you may be imagining or worrying about. Bays wrote this book to give her audience simple, meaningful mindfulness exercises to start doing. These practices would be what Kabat-Zinn considers informal exercises, but the reality is that you must stay present either way. My favorite exercise from the book is seeing how long you can focus on the sensation of your feet on the ground during the day. I do this exercise when I’m on a long run or track workout and things are starting to hurt.Rewire also has some great meditations to help center yourself throughout your day that are quick and informal. One of my favorites is Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing to help center me during the day.  Mindfulness On the Go is packed with different exercises to informally insert present-moment awareness  throughout your day.

4) Slalom: 6 River Classes about How to Confront Obstacles, Advance Amid Uncertainty, & Bring Focus to What Matters Most (Joe Jacobi, OLY)

If you want to read something simple yet profound about learning how to be present during difficult times, I suggest reading Slalom. Jacobi is a distinguished athlete (10x national champion and Olympic Gold Medalist) who understands how to get the best of yourself and others during trying times. I picked up this book earlier this summer as I was beginning to practice open water swimming in Lake Michigan. I was always uncertain about swimming in open water and have had periods of intense anxiety towards it. However, Jacobi’s advice of building what he called an “unlikely collaboration” certainly helped me redefine my relationship with uncertainty and get out of my comfort zone further. Another way I have been deliberately adding obstacles is by adding post-workout Rewire sessions after harder days on the track or in the gym. 

5) The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness (John Yates, Matthew Immergut and Jeremy Graves)

If you have read Mindfulness for Beginners and have made it this far, you’ll be glad to note this book gives an in-depth approach to the use of mindfulness training in your everyday life. The Mind Illuminated is essentially a practical manual for meditation practitioners to guide others through a transcendent experience. What I liked about this book is that Yates and co. talk about how several cultures outside of eastern Asia have their own history of practices that develop a present moment awareness. The authors of this book also go into detail about how to overcome several barriers that may occur as someone goes through a mindfulness practice. I like to read this book more as a workout plan for your mind. You don’t do everything in a single activity and expect to be fully present 100% of the time, right? Neither should you expect that from this book. Rather, this book can take weeks if you’re practicing and trying to troubleshoot different aspects of your mental practice. 

6) Mindsight (Dan Siegel, MD)

Personally, this was one of my favorite books to read throughout grad school, and one that I’m hoping to reread within the next year. In Mindsight, Dr. Siegel goes on to explain what mindsight is- the trainable skill to separate ourselves from our emotional responses. The idea of perceiving the mind as separate from ourselves comes from multiple cultural traditions including the stoics and Buddhists. How we perceive our emotions can change how we react to them. Dr. Siegel goes on to also explain the neurobiological mechanisms that occur when we can “name and tame” our emotions. When we develop this form of attention, we can clearly understand our own responses, habits and take control over our emotional intelligence. 

7) The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance (George Mumford)

Mumford has been a force in the mindfulness training community for decades. If you open his book, you’ll read reviews from athletes at the high school, college and professional level who only talk about the benefits of meditation. In the Mindful Athlete, Mumford digs into the power to stay present and locked in during important performances. It is a power (or rather superpowers) that every athlete has inside of them and only learns to unleash through mindfulness training. He teaches us through his words that mindfulness training isn’t a destination, but a journey. On that journey, you might find greatness along the way. To summarize this, the first few lines of Mumford’s journey can pull anyone into this book for hours:

“Pain brought me to mindfulness, not any desire to reach nirvana or pop out of any chrysalis. It was unlearning certain habits and thought patterns hard-wired in my brain and walking through my pain, rather than avoiding it, that ultimately put me on a joyful journey of self-discovery.”

8) Good Morning, I Love You (Shauna Shapiro, PhD)

This is a book that I’ve gifted to nearly every person I know who has experienced chronic pain. In Good Morning, I Love You, Shapiro retells her story of being a competitive volleyball player whose career was upended by a severe back injury. After a trip with her best friends to study meditation in southeast Asia, Shapiro noticed differences in herself. This led her on a journey to become a clinical health psychologist who specializes in mindfulness training. Shapiro gives meditations to practice for beginners, as well prompts that she has used in her own practice to help her develop her own mental training. 

9) 4,000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (Oliver Burkeman)

These last two books are not focused on meditation training specifically. Rather, they will change your view of reality and teach you what it really means to be intentional. My grandfather always told me that you don’t find time for the things you care about, you make time. In Burkeman’s 4,000 Weeks, he eloquently digs into the fact that are culture of productivity is built upon smoke and mirrors. The fact is that we only have so much time to do something meaningful on this planet and time itself is a reality, not a resource. The most powerful lesson I learned from this was much like a budget, to make you pay yourself first with your time during the day. I usually start with a readiness assessment from Rewire when I finally look at my phone and practice meditation for the first 15-20 minutes of my day.  I’ll let you dig into the rest of the details and have your own epiphany, but if you want something to reinforce your intentional and deliberate practice during the work week, I highly suggest you read this book. If you want more strategies on how to pay yourself first in the morning with your time, I also suggest this post on how to master your morning routine. 

10) This Is Water: Some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion about living a compassionate life (David Foster Wallace)

Lastly, if you need something brief to help you break out of autopilot, This is Water is just for you. This essay takes about 30-35 minutes to read, but hours of deliberate practice to fully comprehend if you’re like me. Wallace wrote this in a contrarian style when he was asked to give a commencement speech at Kenyon College. The premise of this book is that the young graduates who he was addressing had no idea of what kind of world they were just about to enter after getting into college. So many people live their lives unconsciously in doing mode, that they never contemplate the reality of the world they live in. This is the water that Wallace addresses in his first few lines of the speech. After reading this essay, I hope you begin to understand the difference between living your regular 9-5 lifestyle, that comfortable routine you can shut your mind off in. Instead, I hope you learn what it means to live a meaningful and intentional life by delving into at least one of the few books that I’ve laid out for you here. 

These books are just a guide to get started on developing your own mindfulness practice. I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still working through some of these books as I explore my own meditation practice. I hope these books give you a guide to start thinking about both the philosophy and practical application mindfulness training can play in your athletic careers.

Through mindfulness training, you can develop a powerful mind-body connection which can increase your performances.  Jumpstart your mindfulness practice by using the Mindset Recovery tools provided within the Rewire app and help you track of your mental training.

Click Here Download the Rewire App and Join Our Community for Free.


Is Athletic Burnout More Than Just Stress?

It could be more than stress – you could be tip-toeing your way to burnout.

Whatever it is, just know that it’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time.

Do you feel a lack of interest in your sport? Maybe lapses of motivation, increased stress, or little drive to participate or compete in a sport you once loved? If so, you could be experiencing what is known as “athletic burnout.” 

Athletic burnout is described as a lasting experience of emotional and physical exhaustion. It’s often accompanied by a lack of motivation, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and in some cases, the need to withdraw from sporting activity, as stated in a 2007 study.

It’s common for burnout and stress to intertwine, especially in the workplace and in our personal lives. And it’s certainly possible for burnout to find its way into your training. So watch out, burnout stress is lurking around many corners, but there’s a difference between stress and burnout, especially when it comes to sports.

So, this blog post will explain more about stress and athletic burnout – how they are connected and what you can do to better manage your stress levels.

Burnout and stress – where’s the link? 

A good amount of research on athletic burnout suggests chronic stress to be a key driving factor behind burnout. 

The American College of Sports Medicine mentioned the physical, emotional, and academic pressures University and college-level athletes encounter regarding burnout. For example, student-athletes commonly miss lectures, are exposed to social isolation, limited privacy, inadequate recovery, the pressure to perform, the list goes on…

These physical and emotional stressors may contribute to athletic burnout – creating a link between stress and more severe burnout symptoms. Other researchers suggest that burnout is more than a side effect of chronic stress. 

Similarly, world-leading sports sociologist, Coakley, argues that stress is not the cause of burnout – it is a symptom. Other academics also view burnout as a result of entrapment in sports. 

Entrapment occurs when athletes no longer want to participate in their sport, but feel like they have to. This is more common in youth athletes – perhaps continuing to swim or run track to achieve a scholarship or to impress their peers, parents, or coaches.

The integrated model of athlete burnout

Many theories and models have described burnout and its association with stress, entrapment, and personality factors.

Trying to understand the main cause of athletic burnout when there are so many theories and models can be confusing. So, Gustaffson and colleagues created the integrated model of athlete burnout to best represent the many causes of burnout in sport.

Image credit: Gustaffson and colleagues – I’ve linked the paper in the image. I’ll also include a link below to the figure as a png.

The integrated model of athlete burnout takes into account the most popular explanations for burnout in sports. This combined model of burnout helps us better understand how different stressors and other factors out of our control may contribute to burnout, eventually leading to maladaptive consequences such as withdrawal and a performance decline. 

How to identify athlete burnout

There are a few telltale signs of athletic burnout that you should look out for. These symptoms may include:

  • Mood disturbances
  • A lack of motivation
  • Increased stress
  • A decrease in performance

You may also have other symptoms that go beyond stress – a sign that it’s more than a single episode of stress.

What are the side effects of athletic burnout? 

Athletic burnout is unique to the individual. But there are a few common side effects of burnout that many athletes encounter, such as:

  • Withdrawal from sport
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Depression
  • A further lack of motivation

Read our blog post on how to prevent athlete burnout for further tips and actionable strategies to help you beat burnout.

How to treat athletic burnout

It’s not uncommon for athletic burnout to go undetected. Often, athletes do not speak about stress, and how they’re feeling emotionally with their coaches, peers, or even parents. For many athletes, there’s too much at risk. And for others, they don’t know why they’re feeling how they do, whether that’s lapses in motivation, increased fatigue, or one of the many other burnout symptoms.

So, how do you treat it? The main way to overcome athlete burnout is to rest – taking time off from your sport to fully recover. However, you can also manage your emotional fatigue and stress to better understand when you are at a higher risk of burnout.

You may also consider adding stress relief sessions to your daily routine to better cope with stress, increasing relaxation when you need it most, whether after a challenging training session or a long day. If you are reading on mobile, you can complete the Rewire Fitness stress relief session here. On average Rewire users report a 70% decrease in stress after completing a 2 minute session.

Unlock ultimate performance with Rewire Fitness

So, the big question: is athletic burnout more than just stress?

Burnout and stress have some correlation. However, whether stress is the cause of burnout or a symptom remains academically challenged. But we do know this: managing your stress, emotional fatigue, and controlling your immediate environment is likely to help prevent burnout. And if you’re looking for immediate stress relief, you may want to check out our blog post on 5-10 breathing

Start using the Rewire Fitness app today for free and begin mental training to help combat burnout and reduce stress.


What are the signs of athletic burnout?

Telltale signs of athletic burnout include a lack of motivation, mood disturbances, increased stress, and a performance decrease.

What does sport burnout feel like?

Sport burnout is often described as physical and emotional exhaustion. You may also experience a reduced sense of accomplishment and less interest in your sport.

How long does it take to recover from burnout?

Burnout recovery varies from person to person. It can takes weeks or months to fully recover from burnout. 


Coakley, J., 1992. Burnout among adolescent athletes: A personal failure or social problem?. Sociology of sport journal, 9(3), pp.271-285.

Gustafsson, H., 2007. Burnout in competitive and elite athletes (Doctoral dissertation, Örebro universitetsbibliotek).

Gustafsson, H., Kenttä, G. and Hassmén, P., 2011. Athlete burnout: An integrated model and future research directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4(1), pp.3-24.

Raedeke, T.D., 1997. A sport commitment perspective. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 19, pp.396-417.
The American College of Sports Medicine. 2021. The American College of Sports Medicine Statement on Mental Health Challenges for Athletes. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 October 2022].


New Mindset Recovery Collections for Passive, Guided, and Sleep Sessions

We’re pleased to announce the release of 3 new Mindset Recovery Collections

In collaboration with Rewire athletes and coaches we’ve created these new Elite member mindset recovery collections to provide more tools for managing stress and improving recovery and performance.

This is what the collections look like in the Rewire app:


Image from the “Sleep Aid” session

The “Sleep Better” collection has been designed to help you improve and optimize your sleep. The collection includes both active and passive sessions to be used prior to sleep, during sleep or to help overcome a poor night’s sleep.

Athlete’s sometimes suffer from a poor sleep due to a number of factors including being constantly challenged with managing a stressful lifestyle between training, work and their personal life. Then there are times when you simply can’t fall asleep or get up after restless night’s sleep and still have to perform, what then?

“I’ve experienced a severe lack of sleep first hand while attempting to summit a 16,000 FT peak in Washington state called Mt. Rainier. After three days of climbing I only had a sum total of 6.5hrs of sleep but then had to get up at midnight for our summit attempt. Since I wasn’t able to sleep what I did instead was play back-to-back 2 Hz Delta Wave Binaural Beat sessions to help support cognitive recovery and restfulness while I lay awake with my eyes closed waiting for the climb. It was a tremendous help that night. Read more about my story here.”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

The Sleep Better sessions include:

  • Wind Down Routine: This guided session takes you through some best practices for maintaining a good sleep hygiene along with guiding you through a 4-7-8 breathing session to help you wind down and prepare for a good night sleep. This session should be used approximately 15-20 minutes prior to sleeping.
  • Sleep Primer: This active session is designed to optimize your mind and body for sleep using 2Hz binaural beats and 4-7-8 breathing.
  • Sleep Aid: If you’re having a hard time falling asleep then this guided session is a great choice to help you relax your body and mind for a good night sleep. The session is designed to be used while in bed to help you fall alseep.
  • Sleep Aid Extended: This session repeats the same exercises as Sleep Aid but with an extended Binaural Beats section to help you drift off to sleep.
  • Sleep Pure Beats: This passive session is designed to be used with earbuds or headphones to help you fall asleep using 2Hz Binaural Beats.
  • Use After a Bad Night’s Sleep: What do you do when you have a poor night’s sleep but still have to perform that day? Use this pure binaural beats session to help make the best of your day. The session can be used while laying down or as you go about your day to help recover your mind and body. (Note this is what I used during my climb).


Image from the Increasing Motivation Session

This guided collection has been designed to be used in passive mode without looking at the screen. It contains guided sessions to improve performance, recovery and stress relief.

What if you are simply too tired, don’t have time or are unable to look at your phone’s screen in order to do a mindset recovery session?

“At a recent cycling stage race, I had to compete in 3 back-to-back races in a single day across several disciplines. In between races I only had approx 30 minutes to eat, rest, fix my bike, warm-up and get to the start line. I used these guided sessions to help me ramp down, slow my breathing and get into a restful, recovery state then to ramp back up recharging my mind and body for the next challenge. ”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

The Guided Passive sessions include:

  • Positive Thinking (1 Min): This short guided session can be used during training, competition and other times you need to boost your motivation and self-confidence when you have very limited time.
  • Managing Frustration (1 Min): When frustration is getting the better of you or things are not going your way, this short guided session can help you get your frustration in check and hit the reset button for the next challenge.
  • Increasing Motiviation (1 Min): Need a big boost of motivation to get you over a difficult challenging? This short guided session can be used to increase motivation and promote a confident, positive mindset.
  • Stress & Anxiety Relief (2 Min): When stress or anxiety is feeling overwhelming but you just don’t have the time for a full length mindset session then this short guided session is a quick solution to help you with a calm mind.
  • Physical Priming (2 Min): This short guided session can be used during training, competition and other times when you want to prime your body for performance. (this is what I used to ramp back up after resting between races)
  • Prepare for Competition (4 Min): This comprehensive guided performance session will prepare your mind and body for peak performance. Follow the visualization cues and prompts with your eyes closed.


This collection has been designed to be used in passive mode without looking at the screen. It contains Binaural Beats at different frequencies for rest, recovery and focus. (Note that these sessions must be used with headphones to work properly).

As you go about your day what can you do to get into the zone, maximize recovery and promote productivity? These 19 individual sessions provide a range of solutions lasting from 2 min to 120 min and can be done while working, training or resting.

“Often throughout the day, when I want to focus on a project or improve passive recovery my go-to solutions are these pure beat sessions.”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

Reference Guide for Pure Beats Passive Sessions*

  • 2.0 Hz – Delta wave for deep sleep
  • 4.0 Hz – Theta wave for meditation/sleep
  • 13 Hz – Beta wave for focus and concentration            

* If you want to nerd out on the science behind Binaural Beats read this full guide here.

The Pure Beats Passive sessions include:

  • Rest sessions: These passive recovery sessions include 2.0 Hz Delta Wave Binaural Beats designed for deep relaxation and recovery. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you are feeling drained or short on sleep. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
  • Balance sessions: These passive recovery sessions include 4.0 Hz Theta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a calm meditative state. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a calm mindset. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
  • Focus sessions: These passive focus sessions includes 13.0 Hz Beta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a focused mental state. These sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a focused mindset for competition, training or work. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.

Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief: How to Do 5-10 Breathing

Here’s how a simple belly breathing exercise can help reduce stress.

Do you currently feel stressed or overwhelmed? Maybe you feel an intense pressure at work, or maybe you’ve just had a newborn, you’re not getting enough sleep, and you’re feeling more stressed than ever?

Whatever it is, just know that it’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time.

Stress is the body’s response to pressure. When we feel threatened, our bodies produce the fight-or-flight response. And while this helps us respond quickly to life-threatening situations, experiencing too much fight or flight in our daily lives can have various detrimental side effects.

But as already mentioned, some level of stress is normal. Besides, it shows you care about your work, family, or other commitments.

So, how do you better control and manage stress? This blog post will explain a type of diaphragmatic breathing and other tips to help you reduce stress and focus on what matters most.

How common is stress?

The Mental Health Foundation reported a staggering 74% of people felt so stressed they were unable to cope and felt overwhelmed. The study consisted of an online poll of 4,619 respondents in the UK.

The reasons for feeling stressed varied. But common causes included:

  • A health condition or health concern
  • Financial stress
  • Appearance and body image stressors 
  • Housing worries
  • Pressure to succeed 

These are just a few of the many stressors found in today’s society. But there are plenty of other reasons to feel stressed.

Maybe you feel undertrained for your first marathon, you feel stressed about riding your road bike on the road for the first time, or perhaps the demands of working long hours into the evening are finally affecting your mental and emotional capacity. 

What are the side effects of stress?

While stress can be useful in small doses, and in the right situations, most of the time, we’d prefer not to be stressed…

You may even find yourself stressing about being stressed – if this sounds like you, then you may benefit from guided breathing exercises for stress relief.

But what are the side effects of stress? According to Mind, If you commonly experience stress, you may feel:

  • Irritable or angry
  • Overwhelmed
  • Anxious, nervous, or afraid
  • Depressed
  • Neglected or lonely
  • Unable to enjoy yourself 
  • Like your mind is racing 

These are just a few of the many side effects. There are also more short-term side effects that you may encounter, such as difficulty breathing, panic attacks, problems sleeping, stomach issues, intense sweating, and more.

Tackling your source of stress is crucial. Maybe that means taking on fewer projects at work, asking for a helping hand, or adding a rest day to your training to unwind and decompress.

You can also try breathing exercises for stress – there are a ton of sessions you can try on the Rewire app.

If you feel stressed and you’re experiencing a mix of side effects that are negatively impacting your day-to-day life, then you might benefit from a visit to a healthcare professional.

Breathing exercises for stress

Breathing exercises, specifically slow breathing exercises, promote comfort and relaxation and reduce symptoms of anxiety, confusion, anger, and even depression, as stated in a 2018 study

Adding breathing exercises to your daily routine can help combat stress.

You don’t need to perform these at the same time every day, either. You can do breathing exercises for stress when you need them most.

Alternatively, you can also try guided meditation and breathing exercises, usually done first thing in the morning or right before bed.

The 5-10 breathing exercise 

5-10 breathing is a form of diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing – this is where you inhale through your nose and exhale out through your mouth.

This breathing exercise for stress relief sends signals to your brain and nervous system to help reduce stress and other emotional responses (anxiety, fear, etc.) . In particular, it’s the long exhale that activates the parasympathetic nervous system (and deactivates the sympathetic nervous system) to calm the body down. It may take a little while to get used to, but with a little practice and the helping hand of our guided session, you’ll be on your way to a less stressful day. 

So, how do you do it?

Inhale through your nose to the count of five and exhale through your mouth to the count of ten. That’s one breath.

Repeat as needed – typically, you want to perform this exercise for at least 2 minutes to feel the full effect.

Benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include improved cognitive performance and reduced stress. It may also lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

It’s a relatively easy breathing exercise to learn and can be done anywhere, making it a great tool for stress relief when you need it most. 

The Rewire mindfulness and recovery protocol for stress relief 

The Rewire app contains a mix of mindfulness and recovery protocols that use breathing exercises and binaural beats to help facilitate certain emotional responses, whether that’s stress relief, improved focus, or relaxation.

We have a few stress relief sessions on the Rewire app, but the guided stress relief session is our most popular session for stress reduction – more on this below. 

Mindset Recovery – Stress Relief

The Rewire stress relief guided recovery session uses the 5-10 breathing technique and 2 Hz binaural beats to help alleviate stress and achieve a calm state of mind. On average, Rewire users report a 70% decrease in stress after a 2-minute session.

It takes less than 4 minutes to do, can be done anywhere, and will leave you feeling less stressed.

If you have Rewire downloaded on your mobile device, tap here to try ‘stress relief’. 

Reduce stress with Rewire Fitness

Rewire can help you combat stress to improve your day-to-day life.
Start using the Rewire Fitness app for free to help reduce stress when you need it most. Take control of your emotional response and improve your day-to-day well-being and stress levels, increasing presence and allowing you to focus on what matters most.


Gerritsen, R.J. and Band, G.P., 2018. Breath of life: the respiratory vagal stimulation model of contemplative activity. Frontiers in human neuroscience, p.397.

Ma, X., Yue, Z.Q., Gong, Z.Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N.Y., Shi, Y.T., Wei, G.X. and Li, Y.F., 2017. The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in psychology, p.874.

Mental Health Foundation. n.d. Stress: statistics. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 October 2022].

Mind. 2022. Signs and symptoms of stress. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 October 2022].

Zaccaro, A., Piarulli, A., Laurino, M., Garbella, E., Menicucci, D., Neri, B. and Gemignani, A., 2018. How breath-control can change your life: a systematic review on psycho-physiological correlates of slow breathing. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, p.353.