Feeling stressed lately? Give box breathing a try, and see how this powerful breathing technique helps clear the mind and relax the body.

Box breathing, also called square breathing or four-square breathing, is a deep breathing method that helps slow down your breathing and returns it to its normal rhythm.

It's a simple yet very effective relaxation technique that may help improve focus, ease stress, and relax your overall mind and body after a stressful experience.

The best part about this relaxation technique is that it’s quick to learn and easy to perform and can be beneficial in coping with stressful situations. People may find box breathing exercise particularly useful if they have anxiety, depression or a lung disease like COPD.

Box breathing technique: How to perform it correctly?

Square breathing calms the mind. (Photo via Pexels/Oleksandr Pidvalnyi)
Square breathing calms the mind. (Photo via Pexels/Oleksandr Pidvalnyi)

Four-square breathing is quite an easy exercise that you can do in any quiet place. It typically involves four basic steps, with each step lasting for four seconds.

The steps include:

Step 1: Breathing in

Step 2: Holding your breath

Step 3: Breathing out

Step 4: Holding your breath

Here’s how you can perform it:

Close your eyes when practicing box breathing. (Photo via Pexels/Kelvin Valerio)
Close your eyes when practicing box breathing. (Photo via Pexels/Kelvin Valerio)

Start seated on a chair with your back straight, and place your feet on the floor. You may also sit on the floor with your back supported against a wall. Close your eyes.

Step 1: Breathe in through your nose, and count to four. As you do that, feel the air entering your lungs.

Step 2: Hold your breath while counting to four in your head.

Step 3: Breathe out slowly while counting to four.

Step 4: Again, hold your breath as you breathe out, and count to four in your head.

You should repeat the first three steps for at least for four seconds or till you feel relaxed and calm. However, if you find it difficult, try them for a count of two and gradually move up to four. Once you’ve mastered the technique, go up to five or six counts.

Box breathing benefits

Box breathing offers several benefits and can be used as a technique to calm the mind and relax your body.

According to experts, there's evidence that shows that deep breathing techniques like square breathing can regulate and calm the autonomic nervous system. Read on to learn about the benefits of square breathing:

Reduces symptoms of physical stress

Square breathing, when performed regularly and correctly, can ease symptoms of physical stress.

Studies suggest that deep breathing exercises can significantly work on cortisol (the major hormone associated with stress) and reduce their production, which helps lower down stress and relaxes the body and mind.

Box breathing for anxiety

Square breathing is good for anxiety and stress. (Photo via Pexels/Kat Smith)
Square breathing is good for anxiety and stress. (Photo via Pexels/Kat Smith)

Square breathing is also said to be really effective on mental and emotional well-being. Studies show that breathing techniques can be highly helpful in reducing depression, anxiety and stress.

Improves mental clarity and focus

Another great benefit of box breathing is its ability to improve overall focus and provide mental clarity. In fact, studies have shown that deep breathing techniques can provide a positive outlook towards stress and stressful situations.

Studies also suggest that square breathing and other breathing techniques, like meditation, can significantly change how the body reacts to stress. Moreover, it can also change your future reaction to stress and help you cope with it in a more positive way.

Box breathing exercise can also:

  • help you sleep better, especially if you have insomnia
  • control hyperventilation and help the lungs breathe rhythmically
  • reduce cortisol, which eases panic and stress
  • manage blood pressure
  • improve mood
  • help you stay focused while making an important decision

Overall, square breathing can be the best and most effective way to work on your mental and emotional well-being. With only four easy steps, it can help you refocus on yourself on a stressful and hectic day.

When done regularly, this breathing technique can add more relaxation and calmness to your physical and mental health.

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