Box breathing—also known as square breathing—is an effective way to bring your body and mind into a calm and relaxed state. It does this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This makes it an effective breathing exercise for anxiety, but anyone can use it to center themselves if they need to.
It is called box breathing because it uses the visualization of a box to help you maintain a breathing pattern that is regular and consistent. A box has four sides and box breathing has four steps to it:
- Inhale for four seconds (this can be done through your nose or mouth, it doesn’t matter).
- Hold that breath in your lungs for four seconds.
- Exhale for four seconds (again, through your nose or mouth).
- Hold your lungs in an empty state for four seconds.
Use the box breathing GIF above to help you get into the rhythm and to create the box visual in your mind. If you plan to continue this breathing exercise for a while, you can then sit or lie down with your eyes closed as you continue to see the box and the moving dot in your mind’s eye.
How long should you keep box breathing? It’s entirely up to you. A couple of cycles lasts 32 seconds and can be useful when you just need to compose yourself. Or you can keep going for as long as you like to bring your body and mind in a state of deep relaxation.
If you would like to feature this box breathing animated GIF on your website, you can do so by using the following embed code (please keep the credit to A Conscious Rethink when using this GIF).