Stress is inevitable and sometimes even necessary. But chronic stress can affect our mental well-being and even lead to long-lasting and damaging physical problems such as high blood pressure, prolonged headaches and heart disease.
While there are a number of ways to control stress, the easiest and most convenient way is breathing.
Let’s explore a few techniques to see how they can help us find tranquility in the midst of chaos.
Box breathing, also known as square breathing or four-square breathing, is a controlled breathing technique that focuses on equalizing the four phases of the breath: inhaling, holding the breath, exhaling, and holding again.
The term “box” refers to the four equal sides of this breath pattern.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to practicing box breathing:
Find a Quiet Space: To fully immerse yourself in the relaxation process, choose a quiet, comfortable place to sit.
Sit Comfortably: Maintain an upright posture that allows for free airflow. You can sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, whatever feels most comfortable for you.
The Four Phases:
a. Inhale: Start by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose. As you inhale, count to four and fill your lungs completely.
b. Hold: Once you’ve inhaled, hold your breath for a count of four. During this pause, focus on the stillness and the sensation of fullness in your lungs.
c. Exhale: Gently and slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Release any tension as you breathe out.
d. Hold: After exhaling, hold your breath for another count of four. This brief pause helps reset your breathing pattern.
Repeat: Continue this rhythmic pattern for a few minutes or until you start to feel a sense of relaxation and calm.
Box breathing works on several levels to promote relaxation.
Regulates the Nervous System: By maintaining a consistent and controlled breath cycle, box breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the “rest and digest” response.
This counters the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
Enhances Mindfulness: Box breathing requires focused attention on each breath phase, promoting mindfulness. This mindfulness practice can assist you in letting go of rushing thoughts and bringing your focus to the present moment.
Reduces Anxiety: The slow and deliberate nature of box breathing helps reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol, leading to a decrease in anxiety levels. Improves Concentration: Regular practice of box breathing can enhance your ability to concentrate and make clear decisions, as it trains your mind to stay calm under pressure.
Promotes Better Sleep: Incorporating box breathing into your bedtime routine can aid in falling asleep faster and enjoying a more restful sleep.
Hope you found this useful. Click here to read our other post about the ‘4-7-8’ breathing technique.