Are you stressed on a daily basis? Are you struggling with anxiety or overwhelming thoughts? One of the first pieces of advice someone will give you is to breathe. However, they often neglect to tell you what that means. Hearing someone tell you to breathe when flustered or panicked can just cause more confusion because you’re already breathing, you’re breathing constantly. A more specific description would be to start consciously controlling your breathing. By actively slowing and controlling your breath, you begin to decrease your heart rate allowing your mind to think in a clearer way.
One of the techniques used to control your breath is called box breathing. Box breathing is simply the pattern: breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold. You start by imagining a flat box. Focus on the bottom left corner of the square, breathe in for 4 following the edge up to the top left corner. Then hold your breath for 4 across to the top right corner. Breathe out for 4 down the edge to the bottom right corner and hold for 4 across to the corner you started in.
Imagining the box is just to get you started and to have your mind focus on one thing; once you have settled into the pattern you will find yourself easily breathing without having to imagine the box anymore. The brilliant thing about this technique is that it can be done anywhere: on a bus, lying in bed or walking to the shops.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious, just remember the box and breathe.