Box Breathing – How a Simple Square Can Calm You Down

Box Breathing is a popular breathing technique that supports your body to slow down and regulate, moving you into a place of calm and relaxation.

Box Breathing is a popular breathing technique that supports your body to slow down and regulate, moving you into a place of calm and relaxation. This four-step process involves slowing your respiratory rate riiiiiiiiight down in a rhythmic way, moving you from the short, shallow breaths, to more controlled regulated breath work. The very intention is to move you out of the sympathetic nervous system dominance, into your parasympathetic space, signalling back to the body that all is ok and we do not need to panic thanks! When the body is in a heightened stressed or anxious state, it responds in many ways such as: your muscles contract, your breathing speeds up, your blood pressure and heart rate increase to be ready for a quick getaway or strong move. This is great when physically needed, but when we are in a safe place, but highly stressed, we do need to find a way to self-soothe and support the body to lower this physical response. This slowing down by regulating our breathing allows the body to respond by decreasing the heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing our muscles and calming our nervous system. These benefits from managing your breathing and slowing everything down can range from simply de-stressing to helping manage depression, anxiety, panic, lift your mood and even manage pain. Box breathing is a practice widely appreciated throughout the world and reported to be popular with the American navy seals as a quick, convenient way to regulate their acute stress. The practice is known as ‘Box Breathing’ because it entails visualising a square (box), that has four even sides and is the template for the breathing cycle. Some also call it ‘four-square breathing’, ‘4 x 4 breathing’ or ‘square breathing’.

How to practice box breathing

Box breathing involves four simple steps. As you do the exercise, the idea is to visualise a box with four equal sides. You can do this with your eyes closed or with a soft gaze. With each step, imagine you’re following or tracing one side of the box. Start at the top corner and work your way around the box until you return to the starting point. Following the top side of the box, breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four. As you follow down one side of the box, hold your breath for a count of four. Following the bottom side, breathe out slowly for a count of four, releasing all the air from your lungs. Going up the other side of the box, hold your breath for a count of four. If 4 seconds feels too long or too short, you can adjust your count for each step (for example, breathe or hold for 2 or 3 seconds, instead of four). Try to repeat this sequence three to four times. (https://psychcentral.com/health/box-breathing) The beauty of this exercise is that you can use it absolutely anywhere, anytime – you don’t need to have a handout, your phone handy or an app to rely on – it is always accessible to you and I encourage you to practice this every day, even when relaxed, as you become familiar with it when you need it and don’t need to remember the technical details in a state of stress or panic. Simple, yet powerful stuff from one little box!

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Hi, I’m Jenny

I’m a highly sensitive, empathic therapist who loves the beach, crystals and herbal medicine, based in Brisbane, Australia.

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meet jenny

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I am a highly sensitive, empathic therapist who supports women that are feeling lost, deflated, stuck and unsure how to move forward in life.

I know exactly what this feels like. I went on a journey of self-discovery starting with an episode of major burnout in my late 20's, forcing me to question ‘who even am I and what is my path - my reason for being?’
I knew for sure what I didn't want - but what did I even need?

After living most of my life how I thought I 'should' be doing it, I have now found how to be at peace with who I am and I am clear about where my meaning and purpose is to be found.

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