Box breathing

Box Breathing
©SeanPavonePhoto/ Fotolia.com

“Take a deep breath first!” We have all received this advice from our mothers when we were particularly upset about something as children. “So, and then tell it again very slowly from the beginning!” – So two things we learned when we were little: deep breathing and slowing down helps us see things more clearly again in a stressful situation. Many breathing techniques that can be learned are based on this fact. They help us keep control of our nervous system and keep a cool head. Conscious breathing is probably one of the simplest and most unobtrusive ways to quickly relax and rebalance your mental state. One relatively easy breathing exercise to learn is Box Breathing.

What is Box Breathing?

Box Breathing means box breathing or four-square breathing. The name is derived from the number four, which, as you will see below, plays a crucial role in the breathing exercise. It was invented by US soldier Mark Devine during his training as a Navy Seal. As is generally known, these people are under a particularly high mental and physical pressure at all times during their work. By using this breathing technique, the Seals prevent themselves from becoming upset by the mere anticipation of a situation of suffering or stress. This allows them to better coordinate their reactions and remain in control of their senses even in the most dangerous situations.

Of course, our daily lives are not usually comparable to those of Navy Seals, but everyone can benefit from the principle of stress reduction through conscious breathing. Many articles and reports prove that controlled, deep breathing has a positive effect on our nervous system and can quickly relieve pressure. Box breathing also normalizes unconscious body reactions, such as temperature. In this way, you can lower your blood pressure and calm down almost immediately.

Box Breathing – a breathing strategy in four steps

Box breathing square
©AllesWolke

In order to have the exercise ready in everyday life, you should practice it calmly a few times beforehand until you can do it effortlessly. Choose a comfortable environment where you are relaxed and where you can concentrate well.

Now sit up straight on a comfortable chair and place your feet flat on the floor. Concentrate on your breathing, consciously inhale deeply through your nose and exhale just as carefully through your mouth. On the next inhalation, slowly count to four. Feel how the air enters your lungs and breathe deep into your belly.
Now hold your breath and count to four again.
Next, count to four again and exhale calmly through your mouth. Feel how the air escapes from your body. It slowly leaves your belly and lungs.
Now hold your breath again until you have counted to four and feel how empty your lungs are.
You can repeat these four steps as often as necessary. You will feel the positive effect of Box Breathing immediately.

If you are not familiar with Box Breathing, you may find it difficult at first to complete the four counts evenly. You may also experience dizziness after a few repetitions. This is normal and will pass with time if you practice regularly. If you feel dizzy, please sit still for a few minutes and continue breathing normally. You will probably feel better the next time you practice. You may also find it difficult to slow down your thoughts and concentrate on breathing. Then try to think of a beautiful and relaxing moment in your life or silently repeat a mantra. This way your concentration will improve over time and Box Breathing will become easier and more familiar to you from round to round.

How do you use Box Breathing in moments of stress?

In general, everyone can benefit from this breathing method. At home it helps you meditate. Or you may want to calm your nerves after a stressful day at work or an argument with your partner or children. Take a short time out, leave the room and do the breathing exercise. Afterwards you will have a clearer view on things again.

For competitive athletes, but also for recreational athletes, Box Breathing is a wonderful way to combat their nervousness before a competition. It makes it easier to focus on your goal of performing at your best.

Professionals who have a high level of responsibility, such as police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and firefighters, can use Box Breathing in a more focused way, while keeping a cool mind themselves in their stressful daily lives.
Four-square breathing is also a good tool for panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety disorders in general. Of course, it does not replace therapy, but has a supportive effect. In this way it can also bring relief during pain therapy or sleep disorders. If you are not sure whether this breathing technique can help you, talk to your doctor or therapist directly about it. He will surely give you comprehensive advice.

Once you have practiced and internalized Box Breathing a few times, you can use it completely unobtrusively. Since everyone needs to breathe, no one will notice if you use a few seconds in a meeting or a difficult negotiation to get back into a steady rhythm. You yourself and those around you will benefit because it enables us to defuse many situations and react more calmly.

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