February 8, 2022

What is box breathing and how does it help?

What is box breathing and how does it help?

Box Breathing is meditative breath work aimed at calming your anxiety and resetting your body’s natural rhythm.

What is box breathing and why is it helpful?

Life can be hard, and often stressful - to cope, we all develop mechanisms to deal with high stress situations, some healthy and others not. The majority of these tools in the tool kit of mental health management function by forcing your brain into a state of mindfulness and self reflection.

Box Breathing is an easy and effective technique to clear the mind and relax the body which is one of the reasons why it is very popular amongst stressful professions, specifically the military. This method of “four square breathing” is equally applicable in everyday life, like after navigating an impossibly small parking lot only to then get stuck in traffic. Some people turn to cigarettes, alcohol or let their anxiety symptoms compound and worsen but these are all unhealthy feigned attempts to calm ourselves when we could be taking more proactive steps like practicing Box Breathing. Box Breathing is meditative breath work aimed at calming your anxiety and resetting your body’s natural rhythm. 

How to Box Breathe? A step by step guide

  1. If it feels comfortable, close your eyes. Focus on feeling the air enter your lungs as you begin to breathe in while slowly counting to 4.
  2. Calmly hold your breath and avoid inhaling or exhaling while you count to 4.
  3. Slowly exhale while counting to 4
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times or until you begin to feel more calm.

What are the benefits of Box Breathing? Take a deep breath

Have you ever tried box breathing? It is an effective technique to help reset your breath, reduce stress, improve mood, and help control your emotions. Box breathing has a range of benefits both physiological and psychological. Physiologically, box breathing assists in regulating your breath, increases oxygen to your lungs, and helps reduce blood pressure - lowering your heart rate. The psychological benefits are in response to exercising mindfulness and letting your mind react to automatic thoughts in a calmer way. By having a method with the potential to help exit harmful thought spirals, box breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms.

5 Breath work tips to calm your mind and improve your mental health

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Somewhere quiet and free from distractions.
  2. Gently close your eyes if that is comfortable or lower your gaze as you take a deep breath.
  3. Notice your breath filling your lungs. You may want to envision a balloon in your belly, expanding and contracting with each breath.
  4. Set a mindfulness intention for your breath-work session. How are you feeling and how do you want to feel? 
  5. Inhaling through your nose breathes in warmer air and the nasal passage kills more germs than oral inhalation. 

Exhale your stress

Mental health management is constant and evolving. By building a tool kit of helpful techniques, we can give ourselves the best chances of success in navigating the stresses of daily life. Box breathing is one small aspect, but helpful tool, in counteracting high stress anxiety inducing episodes. 

If your tool kit ever feels incomplete to manage the workload, reach out to local mental health resources in your area. If you want to learn about Box Breathing, other helpful stress management techniques or know you need a bit of extra help managing your anxiety, depression, ADHD or insomnia symptoms, at Cognito health we’re here for you.

If you are in emotional distress, please contact the resources below
For emergencies dial 9-1-1 or present to your nearest emergency department.