A Simple Solution to Ease Stress

Morgan Scalena, Communications Assistant

If you’ve read our recent YouTube blog post, you’ll know that seated exercise is one of the many ways that we can reduce stress and anxiety. But when stress hits, we may not always be able to take a seat nor spare the time to squeeze in a few exercises. 

Did you know there’s an even easier way to relieve stress anytime, anywhere? It’s something we do every second of every day: breathe! That’s right, certain breathing techniques can help you enter into a state of calm by taking control of your breath and resetting your mind. 

One of the simplest and most effective breathing techniques is called box breathing. 

Follow along as Sunshine Centres walks you through four simple steps to box breathing.

What is box breathing?

Box breathing, also known as square or four-square breathing, is a technique used to calm your mind and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. This breathing exercise involves taking steady, deep breaths to the count of four.

As explained in our box breathing tutorial, this exercise involves inhaling for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding your breath again for, you guessed it, another count of four. Used by athletes to nurses to U.S. Navy SEALs, this simple, yet powerful breathing technique can help return your anxious breathing to its normal, steady rhythm. 

What are the benefits of box breathing?

Box breathing is an effective way to overcome feelings of stress, as well as improve your body’s future reaction to stress and anxiety. Here are some of the ways box breathing will benefit your health:

1. It improves your mental well-being. If you’ve ever thought of meditating to reduce stress and improve your mental health, consider learning the box breathing technique. Breathing is closely connected to our cognitive activity, such as thinking and reasoning. Some studies show taking slow, mindful breaths helps calm anxieties, and reduces stress and feelings of depression.

2. It heightens your cognitive performance. Box breathing helps clear the mind to increase focus and concentration. Research shows deep, rhythmic breathing exercises have been used to manage impulsive behaviour in patients with ADHD. Taking slow, controlled breaths helps balance our nervous system to clear the mind and increase attentiveness.

3. It enhances your body’s future reactions to stress. Resetting your breath through box breathing will benefit both your mind and body over time. Researchers have found that regular deep breathing exercises can trigger genes linked to your body’s energy and insulin levels and reduce those associated with inflammation and stress.

Why should you learn box breathing? 

Practicing the box breathing technique on a regular basis can positively impact your overall mental and physical health and improve your body’s future response to stress.

When you feel stressed or anxious, your unconscious body, also known as your autonomic nervous system, enters into a fight-or-flight state. This means your body responds to the stress by releasing adrenaline and cortisol hormones, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, tightening your muscles and quickening your breath. 

If your body remains in a fight-or-flight state too often for too long, every one of your body’s systems can be negatively impacted. Excessive long-term stress increases the risk of a number of harmful conditions including fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure. It can even lead to heart disease and increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke

So, next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious or just want to quiet your mind, remember to breathe! Check out our box breathing tutorial to follow along and learn the technique. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4! 

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