There’s nothing like the feeling of a hot drink on a cold winter’s day or relaxing on the couch with a good book or your favourite TV show. While these relaxing activities are wonderful, they don’t tend to stick around for moments of day-to-day stress. That’s why the box breathing technique is one of our favourite strategies for stress management on-the-go.

The Mayo Clinic prescribes deep breathing as an effective stress management technique – and for good reason. Studies have shown that deep breathing helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system which helps to bring the body out of a fight-or-flight response, reducing cortisol levels and returning the body its preferred “rest-and-digest” state [1].

After taking part in deep breathing exercises, participants in a study conducted in part by Harvard Medical School showed decreased cortisol levels and improved concentration [2].

Although the fight-or-flight response can be helpful in the short-term, long-term stress can increase the risk of a number of health conditions [3] including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke

Stress management doesn’t just help us feel better in the moment; it’s proven to improve long-term health as well.

Why we love box breathing as a stress management technique:

While there are many tried-and-true techniques to reduce stress, box breathing can provide a relaxing effect in under 60 seconds, which is why we can’t wait to share this helpful technique that you can take with you wherever you go.

From professional athletes and U.S. Navy SEALs, police officers and nurses, people who work in high-stress environments have turned to box breathing for decades to manage stress on the job [3].

How to use the “box breathing” technique:

  1. Inhale deeply for four seconds
  2. Hold your breath for four seconds
  3. Exhale for four seconds
  4. Hold your breath for four seconds
  5. Repeat three times (or until you return to a state of calm)

Ultimately, deep breathing is useful in stress reduction no matter the technique. What we love about box breathing is that it is a fast, easy-to-access technique for everyone from nurses to Navy SEALs.