What is box breathing?

Box breathing is a powerful but simple relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm after a stressful experience. It involves breathing in and out and holding the breath. It may help clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.

Box breathing involves four basic steps, each lasting 4 seconds:

  1. breathing in
  2. holding the breath
  3. breathing out
  4. holding the breath

Box breathing, also known as resetting the breath or four-square breathing, is easy to do, quick to learn, and can be highly effective in stressful situations.

The box breathing method

Box breathing is a simple technique that a person can do anywhere, including at a work desk or in a cafe. It is called box breathing to encourage people to think about a box as they do it.

To try box breathing, a person should:

  1. sit with their back supported in a comfortable chair and their feet on the floor
  2. close their eyes and then breathe in through their nose while counting to four slowly, feeling the air enter into their lungs
  3. hold their breath while counting slowly to four, trying not to clamp their mouth or nose shut.
  4. slowly exhale for 4 seconds
  5. wait 4 seconds, then
  6. repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times

Ideally, a person should repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns. If they find the technique challenging, they can try counting to three instead of four. Once they are used to the technique, they may choose to count to five or six.

Mark Divine is a former Navy SEAL commander who has been using the technique since 1987. In the video below, he describes how to use box breathing.

Adapted From: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321805#breathing-and-health

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