• Chris Gowen

The Box Breathing Technique to Reduce Stress in Your Life

Breathing techniques have been used for centuries in eastern religions to reduce stress and connect to a higher spiritual plane. The fourth plane of yoga, known as pranayama, essentially means expanding the life force using breath. Breathing correctly is an essential factor to a healthy life, but most people pay little attention to how they breathe. Breathing techniques can be an immediate counter to stress factors and can be used in your everyday life. Box breathing is used by Navy Seals and operators the world over. Remember what they tell you when you're faced with stress and anxiety, "Just breathe."

“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace."

During my career in law enforcement as a Los Angles Police Officer and Detective, with many specialized assignments, including the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, I have encountered many violent situations. Several physiological things happen to the human body when the "Fight or Flight," response is induced. When you're faced with an armed suspect who wants to kill you, it's imperative that you have gone over similar scenarios before in your mind, you control your breathing, and you overcome the, "Oh Shit" moment, no matter how bleak it may seem. Now, this is on one end of the spectrum, but all of us face stress in our everyday lives and we can all benefit from the use of breathing techniques. Box breathing is something you should add to your life's tool box to cope with stress, increase mindfulness, and for your overall wellbeing.

Here are some of the factors faced when you encounter high stress incidents:

  • You lose control of your fine motor skills

  • You get tunnel vision

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure go up

  • Your breath becomes shallow and rapid

Immediately Counter Stress with Box Breathing:

You can immediately counter the factors listed above and everyday stress with Box breathing, also known four-square breathing.

How to use the Box Breathing Technique:

Step 1: Become aware of your breath.

Step 2: Calmly Breathe in slowly for four seconds, and be mindful of your lungs and belly expanding with air.

Step 3: Hold your breath for four slow seconds.

Step 4: Exhale slowly for four seconds - You can alternate breathing out of your nose and mouth while exhaling.

Step 5: Hold your breath for a slow four count.

Step 6: Repeat the steps 2-5

Using the above technique, and other breathing techniques will improve your mindfulness, and increase your situational awareness. It can be used to slow everything down during stressful encounters. It will also reduce stress and calm your central nervous system. It allows more oxygen to reach the bodies cells and tissues.

Chris Gowen

President - Directional Force

There are many breathing techniques that I encourage you to research. If you incorporate them into your everyday life it will have tremendous health benefits for you. Anytime you feel anxiety creeping in, become mindful of your breath, and initiate your box breathing technique. You can do this anywhere and it will have many long-term benefits. By using the technique regularly you will begin to breathe more efficiently without concentrating on it.

Conscious breathing practices will help you become a more optimized human being. I hope you give it a try and remember, "For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. Sanskrit


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