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Feeling Tense? Try Box Breathing

This simple technique may help you chill out


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Quick Win

Named for its four even steps, box breathing may help you de-stress any time of day.

Try this today
  • Take a moment if you’re feeling stressed. Hint: Stress can show up as irritability, muscle tension or feelings of anxiety.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose, letting your belly (not just your chest) expand for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Continue box breathing until you feel calm.

Stress management isn’t a self-care “bonus” — it’s an essential part of maintaining good health, including brain health. Breathing exercises such as box breathing make a great addition to your relaxation toolbox. In a 2019 review of three studies published in JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, researchers concluded that certain deep breathing techniques may reduce physical and psychological measures of stress, including blood pressure and cortisol, a hormone whose level rises as part of the body’s stress response. And remember, breathing is free and you can do it anywhere!

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