What is Box Breathing for Stress Management?

Box breathing is a simple, familiar type of stress management exercise. When you inhale and exhale while you run or listen to music, you are already on your way there. Box breathing is paced breathing that follows a certain rhythm, which helps you minimize stress. Learn more about how it works and why it helps lower stress.

How it Works

Box breathing is known as four-square breathing, involving inhaling to a count of four and exhaling to a count of four, holding in your lungs, then releasing. This paced breathing helps you focus on the breath and not your circumstances.

Stress Management

Box breathing does not carry physical benefits of exercise or long-term mental and resilience benefits but it has a place for stress management. It is simple to learn and practice. It can be done anywhere by anyone during any activity. You can give it a try anywhere or anytime. It just takes a minute or two for immediate benefits of a calm body and a relaxed mind to happen. Increased resilience can also be a good thing that you experience from using box breathing.

Practice Breathing

Box breathing is simple to practice. Relax your body and try to do the following exercises:

  • Let air out of your lungs to count of four
  • Keep lungs empty for count of four
  • Inhale for a count of four
  • Keep lungs full for count of four

You can make the practice into a sort of mantra meditation by saying a mantry rather than counting to four. When you use mantras like ‘I feel present,’ or ‘I am here, now,’ this can help you get focused and intentional on your goals. Another variation is to visualize the four sides of a box changing to a new color. Practicing for five minutes can provide a break from stress.

Apps for Breathing

When you need some extra support for box breathing, you can also try some apps. These are helpful for you if you want to try and focus your breathing but need accountability:

  • Box breathing app: download from Apple or Android. Has nine levels that can help you get a grasp on breathing and make it part of your daily routine. This app includes full and partial audio prompts and tracks your practice history so you can see how much time you’ve spent doing it
  • Breathe 2 Relax: wide range of timed breathing exercises to help with graphic features for enhanced breathing techniques
  • Universal Breathing: visual exercises that work with breathing, helping you understand the exercise better and is more fun for you than repetitive

If you are interested in looking into breathing techniques, there are many ways to try it. If you want to figure out how to make it work better with your schedule, all you have to do is give different things a try to see what works best for you.

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