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LMU 122 – Mastering Stress with Box Breathing: A Navy SEAL Technique for Modern-Day Challenges


LMU 122 – Mastering Stress with Box Breathing: A Navy SEAL Technique for Modern-Day Challenges

Source: Natural News (February 2019)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (March 16, 2019)


In the fast-paced whirlwind of modern life, stress has become an unwelcome companion that often wreaks havoc on our physical and mental well-being. Yet, when we contemplate the immense stress endured by Navy SEALs, first responders, and Special Force Commanders, we’re compelled to ask: How do these individuals manage to remain composed and make crucial decisions in life-threatening situations? The answer lies in a remarkable technique known as “Box Breathing.” This breathing technique not only offers a lifeline for professionals navigating high-stress scenarios but also has transformative potential for anyone seeking to counteract the insidious effects of stress in their daily lives.

The Power of Box Breathing

Imagine a technique that can instantly calm your nerves during moments of stress, while simultaneously safeguarding your body and mind from the detrimental impacts of the stress response. This technique, known as Box Breathing, has emerged as a simple yet profound method employed by Navy SEALs, first responders, and other elite professionals to manage stress and maintain focus in the face of adversity.

Box breathing operates on a straightforward principle: with each cycle, the exhaled breath is extended beyond the inhaled breath. This rhythm forms the foundation of the technique, which not only soothes an agitated mind but also carries the potential to avert the bodily and mental toll that stress can exact.

Unveiling the Technique

Before delving into the mechanics of how Box Breathing combats stress, it’s essential to grasp the technique itself. Even though it’s the secret weapon of elite professionals, anyone can harness its benefits. Begin by inhaling deeply using your diaphragm, counting to 5 as you fill your lungs to their maximum capacity. As you exhale, make each breath longer than your inhalation, opting for counts of 6, 7, or 8. To ensure effective diaphragmatic breathing, expand your belly while inhaling instead of lifting your shoulders, enabling air to reach the lower regions of your lungs and sending calming signals to your nervous system.

The Mechanism Behind the Magic

Now, let’s decipher how Box Breathing exerts its transformative influence on our stress responses. The technique orchestrates a symphony of responses within the nervous system: it attenuates the sympathetic nervous system’s activity, curbing the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline. Concurrently, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and counterbalancing the effects of the sympathetic counterpart.

At the core of our physiological stress response lies the fight or flight mechanism. When triggered, it propels us to either confront a threat head-on or flee from danger. This primal response is triggered not only by immediate life-threatening situations but also by the more subtle stressors that punctuate our daily lives. In the modern world, where mini-stressors abound, the fight or flight response can linger, subjecting us to prolonged periods of stress.

Box Breathing’s Modern-Day Relevance

In a world replete with stressors, the practice of Box Breathing emerges as a potent antidote to the pervasive toll that stress exacts on our health and well-being. For many, the cascade of stressors can manifest as weakened immune systems, sleep disturbances, shortened tempers, headaches, and even weight and cholesterol fluctuations. The beauty of Box Breathing lies in its ability to interrupt the stress response, restoring equilibrium to both the mind and body.

Beyond its calming influence, Box Breathing has been shown to stimulate alpha waves in the brain—waves linked with creative and inspirational thinking. This not only enhances productivity but also empowers us to make rational decisions even in the midst of stress-induced chaos.

Embracing Box Breathing

As our lives become an intricate tapestry of daily stressors, embracing Box Breathing becomes a means of survival. Carving out just 5 minutes once or twice a day to engage in this practice can recalibrate our nervous system, offering a respite from the whirlwind of stress. By striking a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, Box Breathing can positively impact blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, digestion, and even immune function.

This technique has far-reaching implications, potentially preventing headaches, staving off mental and emotional health challenges, and fortifying our immune defences against colds and infections. In a compelling twist, Box Breathing may even combat inflammation and its associated health conditions.

Unleashing the Potential

In a world that demands our constant attention and energy, the profound effects of Box Breathing offer a beacon of hope. With its origins in the practices of elite professionals, this technique has now transcended its exclusive domain, extending its benefits to everyone willing to embrace it. By integrating 5-minute sessions of Box Breathing into our lives, we open doors to improved well-being, enhanced creativity, reduced tension, and a more steadfast resilience against health challenges.



Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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