January 25, 2021 – by Alex Kelly
Breathing is a vital part of everyday life. As we know if one is not properly breathing, or not receiving adequate oxygen intake, the health impacts can be catastrophic. Breathing is a natural instinct. We do not have to consciously remind our bodies to breathe. But did you know that breathing can be a mindful method for reducing stress?
A technique called diaphragmatic breathing — deep, abdominal breathing paired with paced respiration — has been shown to ignite positive mental and physiological outcomes. A 2011 study found that just one day of breathing exercise relieved the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization induced by job burnout. Other psychological studies have shown it reduces anxiety, depression, and stress.*
My favorite mindful breathing technique is actually a Navy SEAL tactic called “box breathing” that helps trigger relaxation in tense situations. Lynn Everett, the co-author of The 5-Minute Recharge describes boxed breathing as “the opposite of a panic attack.”
Boxed breathing is beneficial to do at any point during the day, but especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating or falling asleep. The technique is quite simple:
- Inhale. Slowly inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold. Hold your breath for another 4 seconds
- Exhale. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds
- Hold Again. Hold your breath again for 4 seconds before repeating the process
We all have small stressors in our lives, especially during a pandemic. And these small stressors can turn into bigger health problems. I urge you to try mindful breathing today, even if only for 1-minute.