Despite its promise in alleviating the adverse impacts of stress and anxiety, breathwork–deliberate, voluntary regulation of one’s breath through intentional breathing exercises–remains under-investigated, especially within digitally delivered interventions and for BIPOC young adults. Using a mixed-methods approach combining intensive longitudinal design and qualitative interviews, this study will assess the feasibility and acceptability of a smartphone app-delivered breathwork intervention for anxiety among BIPOC college students. Participants will be 30 BIPOC college students screened for past-month discrimination experiences and elevated trait anxiety (>39, State Trait Anxiety Scale – Trait) who will complete daily diary assessments for two weeks, and half of these participants (n=15) will offer additional insights in semi-structured qualitative interviews.

By providing an accessible and scalable intervention, the study aims to improve wellbeing among BIPOC communities and lower barriers to evidence-based treatment. If successful, future studies can build upon this exciting preliminary evidence with between-subject feasibility trials and randomized controlled trials. Additional research directions include exploring physiological mechanisms behind breathwork’s effects on anxiety and the impact of communal breathwork practice on personal well-being and collective flourishing. Ultimately, this research could offer a cost-effective, self-administered way to address anxiety and contribute to the wellbeing of BIPOC college students.

Maha Al-Suwaidi

University of California Los Angeles

Grantee, Mentee