What is the first thing people say to someone in a high stress moment or crisis? Take a deep breath…
Box Breathing may be the most powerful tool that we have to overcome stress and anxiety in our lives. When we are stressed or tense, our breathing tends to be faster and shallower with an increased heart rate as well as a rise in blood pressure affecting our cardiovascular function. This simple ancient breathing technique slow us down, resets, and lowers our stress bringing our body back to a more rested state. Boxed Breathing is a simple stress management exercise using our respiratory system that is highly effective, portable, and accessible to us every moment of every day to not only calm but to bring clarity and focus to the mind. Box Breathing can be practiced anywhere and anytime whether in a stressful situation or just to refresh oneself to keep more focused.
Box Breathing is a four-step breathing technique:
- Inhale through your nose for four counts
- Hold your breath for four counts
- Exhale through your mouth for four counts
- Hold again for four counts
- Repeat the cycle as needed
This diaphragmatic breathing (big, deep gentle breaths filling your belly) halts the physical and mental aspects of stress. The practice of slowing down breath has ancient roots in such practices as yoga and meditation. Box Breathing, calms the anxiety ridden mind by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system and enables us to stay grounded in the present moment.
My own experience with Box Breathing began in one of my classes in my Integrative Health program. For my class, I had to do a pre-measurement of my pulse rate which was recorded at 34 that converted to a heart rate of 68 beats per minute. After doing Box Breathing for five minutes, my post-therapy pulse measurement dropped to 30 with a heart rate of 60 bpm. I continued experimenting with Box Breathing at a trip to the doctor’s office for my yearly physical. I have had a steady blood pressure of 110/70 since age 25. So, I was interested to see the effect of Box Breathing on my blood pressure. After practicing Box Breathing in the waiting room, my recorded blood pressure was LOW 100/60. Yes, they asked after taking my blood pressure, “What were you doing out there!?”
This Box Breathing works! E