Whether we like to admit it or not, stress is something that affects all of us. In fact, the American Institute of Stress reports that:
77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health
73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health
48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress
About 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress
Unfortunately, for about fifty percent of all Americans, levels of stress are getting worse instead of better.
Although the source of stress varies from person to person, it equally affects our health in a negative manner. We may not be able to change the sources of the stress in our lives, but we can learn to control our stress in a positive way.
One of my personal favorite exercises for stress management is box breathing.
Box breathing is a very powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that is designed to return breathing back to its normal rhythm. This breathing exercise may help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.
Designed to be used by the Navy Seals in combat situations, box breathing is easy to do, quick to learn, and can be a very effective technique for people in stressful situations. This breathing technique can be performed anywhere, including at work or in a cafe.
Before starting, you should sit with your back supported in a comfortable chair and your feet on the floor.
1. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. You should feel the air enter your lungs.
2. Hold your breath while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
3.Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
4.Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds.
5.Repeat steps 1 to 4 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
Studies have shown that just one day of breathing exercise relieved the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization induced by job burnout. Other studies have shown it reduces anxiety, depression, and stress.
Next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation, try this simple and effective breathing technique to help reduce your stress levels and improve your overall health.