A Simple Exercise to Reduce Your Stress

A practice that SEAL teams use in times of trouble is one you can borrow at your desk. It’s called box breathing or four-square breathing.

Here’s how it works: Breathe in for four seconds. Hold air in your lungs for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold your breath, lungs emptied, for four seconds. You can even find guided visualizations online to assist you in a box breathing practice if you’re just getting started. The beauty of box breathing is that it’s inconspicuous, meaning you can practice it anywhere, at anytime — during negotiations, before delivering tough feedback, or even in the middle of a frustrating conversation, for example.

Recently I shared this tool with a client who is navigating her team through a rocky leadership transition. Meetings were fraught with chaos and morale was slipping, which my client felt responsible for as a manager. These worries were beginning to take a toll on her. The anxiety followed her home at night. She found herself becoming increasingly irritable, and knew she had to address it in a more productive way. After practicing box breathing for just a few days, she experienced a major shift. Because box breathing improved her ability to regulate her emotions, she felt more in control and able to deal with challenges. With renewed levelheadedness, she could communicate more effectively to advocate for her team during the transition — even when upstream dynamics threatened to throw their progress off-course.

Give box breathing a try. Even though you’re not on the battlefield, you may find this time-tested Navy SEAL technique helps you rule the day.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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