10801 S. Western Ave., Suite 2B | Chicago, Illinois  |   (708) 586-7357

Decrease your stress levels in five minutes or less with box breathing

Box breathing tips with Mirjam Quinn & Associates Caitlin Rosswurm, young woman sitting near a window with her eyes closed while she practices box breathing

Hello there. Feeling stressed out lately? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’m here today to teach you Box Breathing – one of my favorite breathing exercises that will help slow your heart rate, calm your mind, and decrease your stress levels in five minutes or less.

How do you practice box breathing?

No cape required for this superhero move! Just find a comfortable spot, close your eyes if you want, and follow these steps to start your journey toward less stress:

  1. Breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for four seconds.
  3. Breathe out slowly through your nose or mouth for four seconds.
  4. Hold your breath again for four seconds.
  5. Repeat at least six times (you can imagine tracing the outline of a box with your finger while you breathe – one breath per side. That’s where the name “box breathing” comes from.)

What does box breathing do to your body?

By slowing down and regulating our breath in a structured pattern, box breathing flips the switch on our parasympathetic nervous system—the chill-out mode of our body. This triggers a cascade of calming effects:

  1. Slows Heart Rate: Deep, rhythmic breathing signals to the body that you are safe and it’s ok to relax. As you practice box breathing, your heart rate naturally slows down, helping you feel more relaxed and centered.
  2. Calms the Mind: The deliberate focus on your breath during box breathing acts like a spotlight for your mind. It pulls your attention away from racing thoughts and worries, which helps quiet the mind and promote mental clarity.
  3. Reduces Stress Hormones: Box breathing sends a signal to your brain that it’s okay to dial down the stress hormones like cortisol. This helps alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling more balanced and grounded.
  4. Increases Oxygenation: By taking slow, deep breaths, you’re flooding your body with oxygen. This not only energizes your cells but also helps release tension in your muscles, leaving you feeling more relaxed and at ease.
  5. Promotes Mindfulness: Box breathing is all about being in the present moment. By focusing on your breath and the rhythmic pattern of inhalation, hold, exhalation, and hold again, you’re practicing mindfulness—a powerful tool for reducing stress and increasing self-awareness.

Harness the power of your breath to activate your body’s relaxation response

So, in a nutshell, box breathing works by harnessing the power of your breath to activate your body’s relaxation response. It’s like pressing the reset button on your stress levels, which leaves you feeling calmer, more centered, and ready to take on whatever life throws your way.

And if that doesn’t work – contact our team of therapists, and we will connect you with one of our clinicians who specializes in mindfulness and meditation techniques.

Scroll to Top