Calming Box Breathing

This breathing technique- known as 'box breathing' or 'four square’ is one of the most accessible breathing tools. You can use it anytime you want to calm yourself down whether it’s before bed when you get anxious or are dealing with an annoying coworker.  

According to experts like the Mayo Clinic, this intentional deep breathing actually does calm and help regular the autonomic nervous system- That’s a fancy way to say it helps your brain and body calm the f*ck down. It’s been used by everyone from Yogis to war veterans, and it's easy to see why.  


You can do it in a few easy steps 

(sitting, standing, lying down, just being comfortable and able to breathe)

  1. Inhale to a count of four.
  2. Hold the inhale for a count of four
  3. Exhale for a count of four
  4. Hold the exhale for a count of four.
  5. Repeat (I recommend starting with 2-5 reps)

Do this as many times as you need to in one session, and as many as needed throughout the day. You can always access this directly through toolkit>grounding tools>box breathing or bookmark or text this page to yourself. 

If you like this tool, check out the other ones in the sensory grounding series: 4-2-6, three-part breath, and 5-4-3-2-1

Sara’s story: 

I found this one while looking at tools that have helped veterans with PTSD and instantly loved how easy it seemed. Rather than sitting and visualizing a peaceful place, I could just count and breathe. I like to imagine the sides of a square are drawn with each count of four, and sometimes I’ll visualize a balloon filling holding, emptying, and holding with my breath.   

A huge bonus of this one is that, similar to 4-2-6 and 5-4-3-2-1, I can do it discreetly at parties and in other social situations when it may be weird or difficult to sneak off and calm myself.

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