With the constant demands of work, family, friends and culture it can seem like there is never enough time to get things done that we need to. This perception can sometimes fuel action but if maintained for extended periods of time without a reprieve leads to health issues, fatigue and often poor choices or more stressors such as weight gain (or loss), relationship troubles, sleep problems and more.
While we may not have control over what life throws our way day, to day, we can do our best to manage our thinking and feeling responses to them-even if, at times, it seems we have no choice in those things too. The good news is that we can impact and improve our responses to life-stressors in surprisingly easy ways. You’ve likely read about and tried some already and hopefully this read will just remind and inspire you to revisit some practices you’ve tried before.
When we live in a constant state of high stress, our bodies are in a state of fight or flight and our parasympathetic nervous system is activated; stress hormones including cortisol are elevated, breathing is usually shallow and energy is focused on preparing for a physical threat – even though the threat is intangible. When this is ongoing, the body’s immune system is compromised and our life experience becomes one of survival rather than thriving and enjoying it.
So how do we get ourselves out of the pattern of being in a state of flight, freeze or flee? One of the most effective method is by deep breathing; Box Breathing in particular. Box Breathing is a technique taught in the Navy Seals training and Canadian military to help soldiers learn to self-regulate in life and death situations. It is a technique that can be employed by anyone and dramatically impact one’s ability to calmly and more productively navigate life’s challenges.
BOX BREATHING TECHNIQUE
1. Take a deep breath in to a count of four.
2. Hold for four counts.
3. Exhale for four counts.
4. Hold for four counts.
Repeat 10 to 20 times or until you feel a sense of calm and notice how much more clearly you can think and see opportunities you could not before. If practiced deeply enough, this will lower your heart rate, improve blood oxygen levels, decrease stress hormone levels, aid in digestion, sleep and cognitive function. You will be taking your body into it’s healthy natural resting state and out of flight, flight or flee mode.
This practice of Box Breathing can impact with as little as two minutes once a day. You can do it in the car or anywhere else. No special equipment is required. You deserve to breathe and thrive not just survive. Why not try this for a week as an experiment to see if it is worthwhile for you?