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Box Breathing for Stress Reduction

Updated: Apr 16

Box breathing (aka square breathing) is a simple breathing technique that can be used to quickly reduce stress. It can be practiced anywhere and at any time: during a high stress (fight or flight) situation, at home in bed trying to sleep, in the office.

What to Do

Step 1: Breathe in. Count to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.

Step 2: Hold your breath. 4 seconds.

Step 3: Exhale through your mouth, slowly. 4 seconds.

Step 4: Repeat until you feel calmer. This may take 2or three rounds. Practice for as long as you need.

If you struggle with a 4 count, try 3 seconds. Breathe in as deep as you are able to. Be sure to use the full time during each step. Relax in the moment.


Controlling one’s breath has a powerful effect on the body. We can positively affect the autonomic nervous system, essentially the unconscious operating system that controls our responses. Lowering stress allows for clearer thinking, it allows the body and mind to relax. It assists with decision making at critical times and, over longer time periods, a healthier you.

As with any technique, box breathing improves with practice. Try a daily session to get the feel of box breathing, whether you feel that you need it or not. First thing in the morning, on public transport, during a quiet moment, at home at night. Then, when a time of stress arrives as it surely will, you can use the technique to your advantage.

Stay Healthy,



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