Small and Simple Stress Management

November 5, 2020

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Box Breathing

If you’ve ever looked into stress management techniques or exercises; I’m sure you have come across some pretty involved things. Things such as restorative yoga, coloring and listening to music, going for a walk in nature, the list could go on. And not that there is anything particularly “wrong” with these things. They can just be a little bit time consuming - especially for those with busy or constantly changing schedules. Additionally, these are all activities that involve dropping what you are doing and shifting your focus to a new task.  

Today, I will be introducing Box Breathing! This is a stress management technique that can be done almost anywhere at any time, and no one will know that you are doing it. Box Breathing is a simple deep-breathing exercise that is best used to calm the mind and reduce high energy negative emotions. It is a common exercise that is used by athletes, nurses, police officers, and even Navy Seals. This is because the exercise will only calm the mind, not the body. It won’t make you feel sleepy or groggy after; it just calms racing thoughts and can help you think more clearly and stay focused in high stress situations.  

To do the exercise, follow these steps: 

  1. Try to slow any racing thoughts 

  2. Expel all of the air in your chest as best as you can  

  3. Inhale deeply and slowly for 4 counts  

  4. Hold for 4 counts at the top of your breath  

  5. Exhale deeply and slowly for 4 counts 

  6. Hold for 4 counts at the bottom of your breath  

  7. Repeat this cycle until you start to feel calm and focused  

This exercise may be difficult for some at first as it is hard to stay focused. Some also may experience mild light-headedness; if you do, stop the exercise and sit down for a few moments. Like all things, continuously practicing this will make it easier to do. Next time you are in a high stress moment at work, at school, or even before an exam; remember Box Breathing! Give it a try and let us know what you think by emailing us at healthy.unh@unh.edu!  

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