Calm Anxiety with Box Breathing

Here is how to calm your anxiety with long, deep box breathing.

Long Deep Breathing – Box Breathing

Box breathing is a simple focusing exercise that is done in four equal parts which retrains the nervous system to breathe properly. It helps to calm the nerves and relieve the tension built up by our response to stress. The result of box breathing is a sense of ease and peace in the body and quiet in the mind. When we are calm, we can more easily focus on our job or whatever the task is at hand. We make fewer mistakes. We feel more successful and therefore more fulfilled.

The box breathing technique, also known a four-square breathing, is a simple technique that you can do at any time that you feel stressed. I find this tool especially valuable because I can carry it with me wherever I go and use it whenever I need or want to.

This controlled, even breathing is an integral part of meditation and box breathing fits this description perfectly. It can be used to help regulate the autonomic nervous system. Box breathing uses control through equal counts of four, allowing your body to become nourished by deep, even breaths. The chest and abdominal muscles also get some work through the practice of box breathing.

Here are the steps to Box Breathing.

Sit up straight.

Begin with a complete exhalation, pushing in and up with your abdominal muscles to help release the last bit of used air.

  • Inhale to a count of 4: As you begin your inhale, expand your abdomen, allowing you to fill the base of your lungs, and expand your whole chest cavity as you continue to fill the lungs with air. As you come in to you count of “4”, take just a little more air in at the end imagining you are taking in air all the way up into the area of your collarbones.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 4.
  • Let the breath out to a count of 4: As you exhale, gently begin up at the collarbone area, deflating the chest all the way down into the abdomen, pulling in your belly at the end to push out the last of the air.
  • Hold the breath out for a count of 4.
  • Return to 1) and repeat the cycle from 1-4 for 3 to 11 minutes.

For more helpful breathing techniques to manage stress and chronic pain, go here.