In my on-going search for ways to lower anxiety and achieve more inner peace, I keep stumbling upon a concept called Box Breathing. I decided to delve in by learning its purpose, trying the practice and now it is officially my ‘go to’ when I’m feeling stressed and anxious. It works incredibly well, is easy to do and takes almost no time. I suggest you do the same.
What is Box Breathing?
The following is borrowed from a good article on Box Breathing:
Box breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm. This breathing exercise may help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.
The technique is also known as “resetting your breath” or four-square breathing. It is easy to do, quick to learn, and can be a highly effective technique for people in stressful situations.
People with high-stress jobs, such as soldiers and police officers, often use box breathing when their bodies are in fight-or-flight mode. This technique is also relevant for anyone interested in re-centering themselves or improving their concentration.
Benefits of Box Breathing
The following is adapted from an article entitled, Why Do Navy SEALs Use Box Breathing?
Box breathing is an effective method for overcoming stress and improving your body’s future response to stress and anxiety.
Here are 4 health benefits of box breathing:
- Improves mental well-being:
- Consider learning the box breathing technique if you’ve ever considered meditating to reduce stress and improve your mental health.
- Breathing is inextricably linked to cognitive activity such as thinking and reasoning.
- According to some studies, taking slow, mindful breaths helps reduce stress and feelings of depression.
- Heightens cognitive performance:
- Box breathing clears the mind, allowing for greater focus and concentration.
- Deep, rhythmic breathing exercises help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder manage impulsive behavior.
- Taking slow, controlled breaths helps balance our nervous system, which allows us to clear our minds and increase our attentiveness.
- Enhances the body’s future reactions to stress:
- Resetting your breath with box breathing will benefit both your mind and body in the long run.
- Researchers discovered that regular deep breathing exercises can activate the genes associated with your body’s energy and insulin levels while decreasing those associated with inflammation and stress.
- Helps deactivate the fight-or-flight response:
- The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are two subsystems of the autonomic nervous system.
- When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the body goes into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode, preparing itself to “fight” for survival by releasing cortisol (a stress hormone) (dilation of the pupils and muting pain perception).
- A panic attack occurs when the body enters this mode without being triggered.
- Deep breathing causes the body to enter the parasympathetic or “rest and digest” mode, which helps calm it down in stressful situations.
How to Practise Box Breathing
- Breathe out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
- Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head. Be conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach.
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Exhale for another count of four.
- Hold your breath again for a count of four.
- Repeat for three to four rounds.
The following video is an excellent way to try it out and feel the benefits right away: