Breathing is an activity we don’t often stop to think about—after all, you’ll continue to do it even if you aren’t focusing on it. However, consciously focusing attention on your breath can have significant benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing. One method you can utilize to focus on your breath is box breathing. This simple technique is so named because it involves four steps of equal length. It is a deep yogic breathing practice that is utilized by individuals all over the world, and it can be an incredibly helpful emergency stress management technique. It’s also beneficial to practice daily.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Slowly exhale all the air from your lungs.
- Breathe in steadily through your nose and silently count to four (count slowly—think one Mississippi, two Mississippi, and so on). Bring awareness to the feeling of air filling your lungs and expanding your belly.
- Hold your breath as you count to four once more.
- Exhale steadily for another count of four.
- Hold your breath again for four counts, this time with the lungs empty.
- Repeat 3-4 times.
As you continue to implement box breathing, you’ll become better at it and find that you notice greater benefits from the practice.
Benefits of Box Breathing
- Turn off the “fight or flight” reflex by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Reduce intrusive thoughts by focusing solely on your breath.
- Slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
- Lower stress by reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body.
If stress is becoming a dominating force in your life, you may need more than breathing exercises to recenter and restore your mental health. To connect with a therapist and explore the benefits of talk therapy, request a visit through MeMD. We offer private telehealth visits with licensed therapists who can address a wide range of common mental health concerns.