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Reduce Your Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

boxed breathing

Although a small dose of stress is good for you, longer periods of stress and anxiety can be detrimental to your health. Learning how to reduce your stress in small ways can have a big impact.

Stress can cause fatigue, insomnia, obesity, and increased blood pressure. It can take a toll on productivity and personal relationships. The easiest and fastest way to calm an anxious mind is to focus on the breath. According to Dr. Scott Symington, a psychologist, breathing exercises “strike the ideal balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, triggering various internal mechanisms that promote relaxation.” Even the Navy SEALS practice controlled breathing techniques that help them de-stress quickly. One of the breathing techniques is called Box breathing.

Box breathing helps you take control of your breathing patterns by anchoring your attention and getting into a flow of rhythmic breathing. Picture a box with equal sides, where you inhale through the nose, hold, exhale, and hold following the sides of the box with each step. Box breathing is done through the nostrils to help draw air deep into the lungs and slow down the breathing rhythm. It is both calming and helps increase focus in just a few minutes. This type of breathing is a relaxation response that you can trigger at ANY time. It helps you to remain calm and focus clearly.

box breathing

How to Use Box Breathing

Follow these easy steps to try boxed breathing:

  • Start by sitting up straight with your eyes and mouth closed.
  • Exhale all the air out of your lungs.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Exhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath after the exhale for a count of 4.
  • Repeat this process. You can feel your body start to respond pretty rapidly.

Box breathing can be practiced daily and can permanently alter your unconscious breathing to help with stress management, increased mental awareness, emotional calming, and improved mental clarity. The beauty of this breathing technique is that anyone can do it. It can be done when you’re feeling anxious, in your car before a stressful event, or as a way to start your day. Focused breathing works and helps us re-center so we can move forward in a productive way.


DiGi Graham, Doctor of Pharmacy
Chief Corporate Pharmacist
Carrefour Associates

Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides support to terminally ill patients and their families. Call 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about our services.


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