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How Veterans Can Use Breathwork for a Successful Interview

How Veterans Can Use Breathwork for a Successful Interview

You know that feeling. The one that kicks into high gear as you sit in the lobby waiting for your job interview. Those butterflies won’t stop fluttering around your stomach. Your heart is pounding so hard you swear the receptionist can hear it. Please please please, hands, stop sweating before it’s time to shake hands with someone!

You’re nervous.  

But could something as simple as strategic breathing be the trick to calming your mind and body so you can ace that interview? For the job that you know you’re qualified for?

Wait - breathing? I do that all day every day!  

True. But you can be strategic with your breathing, and implement some breathwork techniques. When you’re sitting in the lobby, these techniques will allow your body and mind to be calm and confident instead of nervous and freaking out

What exactly is breathwork? 

Simply put, breathwork means strategically taking control of your breath, rather than allowing it to run away from you. 

Before your job interview, it not only gives you something to focus on other than how nervous you are, but it can actually lower your blood pressure and decrease your body’s reactions to stress. 

5 Science-Backed Benefits of Breathwork

  1. Decrease Cortisol

Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone”. It’s released into your bloodstream whenever your body perceives any kind of stress or threat. Whether you’re running from a hungry tiger or preparing for a job interview, the effects on your body are the same. 

When your body detects cortisol floating around in your bloodstream, that’s when you go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. Not exactly the state you want to be in as you enter the interview room. 

The good news is that breathwork is a proven method for decreasing cortisol levels in your body [1][2]. For more ideas on how to decrease cortisol levels, check out the article Stressed Out?? 10 Science-Backed Ways to Combat Cortisol.

  1. Increase Attention and Focus

Okay, we already talked about the hormone cortisol, but there’s another hormone called noradrenaline that affects your focus and attention. 

When you’re stressed, your body releases more noradrenaline. Too much noradrenaline can lead to panic attacks or hyperactivity[3]. With hyperactivity, your brain is going a mile a minute and you can’t focus on the task at hand.

Breathwork strategies help your body to decrease the effects of stress and regulate the amount of noradrenaline being released. After practicing breathwork, your ability to sustain attention will increase[1]. You’ll be able to focus on finding the perfect answers to the questions you’re asked in the interview.

  1. Decrease Breathing Rate

When your body is stressed, your blood pressure spikes. Your blood vessels narrow, and your heart has to pump harder to circulate blood throughout your body

What does this look like going into your job interview? It looks like the walk from the lobby to the interview room was the equivalent of running 5 miles! Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But that doesn’t change the fact that you don’t want to be breathing so hard that you have to take a breath in the middle of the sentence, “Nice to meet you Mr. Interviewer.” 

Luckily for you, breathwork is a proven practice for decreasing blood pressure [4], and therefore getting your heart rate under control. Now, you’ll be able to hear the interviewer call your name instead of just your heart pounding in your ears. 

  1. Regulate Your Emotions

Most people don’t consider interviews as their idea of fun and relaxation. If you do, then I guess you can skip all of this breathwork stuff!

But if you’re like most of the population, you have some negative emotions associated with the interview process. Breathwork won’t necessarily change your negative emotions into sunshine and rainbows. But breathwork can help you to cope with perceived negative experiences[5] - such as an interview. 

It helps you to regulate your emotions, endure the negative experience for longer, and perceive the experience as less negative than when you don’t use breathwork strategies.

Okay, you’re convinced. Let’s do some breathwork. But… now what?

How to get started: Types of breathwork 

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing aka Belly Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is the very base level of breathwork. All other breathing exercises are a form of diaphragmatic breathing. So if nothing else, make sure this is the one to remember and use before your interview.

Here’s what to do: Sit or lie down. Though, you may not want to go horizontal in the lobby outside the interview room! Rest one hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in. Feel the hand on your belly rise up. When you have taken a full breath, slowly exhale. Exhale past the point of neutral. Pull your stomach in and squeeze as much air from your lungs as possible before inhaling again. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is the opposite of “chest breathing”, which are those short, shallow breaths your body takes when it’s stressed and anxious.

If you can, practice diaphragmatic breathing for 15 minutes. Belly breathing is proven to increase your focused attention, lower your cortisol levels, and put you in a better mood[1].

  1. Alternate Nostril Breathing

You may want to save this technique for your car when you arrive at the interview, or even in an enclosed restroom. 

Here’s what to do: Place the heel of one hand on your chin. Block your right nostril with one finger and inhale through your left nostril. Hold. Release that finger, and block your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril. Keep your fingers where they are and inhale through your right nostril. After inhaling, switch again. 

It may sound confusing in writing, but after you get a hang of the pattern, it’s a simple technique. Just remember to always switch nostrils after the inhale. 

The general pattern will look something like this:

  • Right inhale. Left exhale. Left inhale. Right exhale. Right inhale. Etc. Etc.

You’ll be using diaphragmatic breathing throughout this exercise. In addition to the benefits of belly breathing, Alternate Nostril Breathing has also been shown to lower blood pressure [8].

  1. 4-7-8 breathing 

This breathing technique has been shown to calm the nervous system[7], which is probably just what you need before interviewing for your dream job.

Here’s what to do: Place the tip of your tongue just behind your front teeth, as though you’re about to say the sound “t” or “d”. Inhale through your nose to the count of 4. Hold for a count of 7. Exhale for a count of 8. Repeat. That’s it!

  1. Resonant or Coherent breathing

Resonant Breathing means slowing down your breath so you take just 6 breaths per minute. 

Practicing Resonant Breathing will put you in a more positive mood and will lower your blood pressure in a stressful situation - like a job interview[6].

Here’s what to do: If you do the math, you’ll want to take one breath every 10 seconds. That means inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat. Done! Make sure you’re belly breathing!


Alright, are you ready to ace this interview? Iron that suit, print off that resume, and don’t forget to BREATHE!

For more articles that help you find the right jobs for veterans please visit our job board regularly. 

About the Author: Jillian Beckham is a Health and Wellness Copywriter. She loves learning, finding what the research supports, and sharing what she’s learned with others through her writing. To find out more, visit www.beckhamcopywriting.com 



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/# 
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alicja_Heyda/publication/241685846_breathwork_madrid_2008/links/02e7e51c9951a42081000000/breathwork-madrid-2008.pdf 
  3. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/norepinephrine 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11319675/ 
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005796705002743 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5575449/ 
  7. https://nmccenters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Breathing-Exercises.pdf 
  8. https://www.ijpp.com/IJPP%20archives/2005_49_4/475-483.pdf