General Information Resources

Box Breathing/Square Breathing

Read below for some more information on a brief and easy to learn breathing technique you may find helpful in stressful situations

Box breathing, or square breathing, is a simple breathing exercise that can be done to reduce stress and regulate the body’s physical response to stress and trauma. It is taught to military personnel and first responders as a coping skill for traumatic situations and stress management.

While recommended you sit comfortably and calmly in a quiet place, this breathing technique can be used anywhere (ex. a business meeting, a difficult night out, a crisis situation) and most people will not be able to realize you are doing anything out of the norm.

Note: Always begin with a normal exhale out of the mouth. This helps regulate our body’s breathing and physical stress response. For people with PTSD, panic attacks, and similar issues, this initial exhale may be critical to regulating the physical response of stress and anxiety and not further fueling a heightened physical response.

After your breath out you can begin.

Step 1: Inhale through your nose for four seconds.

Step 2: Hold your breath for four seconds.

Step 3: Exhale out of your mouth for four seconds.

Step 4: Hold for four seconds


At least four cycles are recommended but you can do what is comfortable. If 4 seconds is too much and you find it difficult or you are light headed do 3 seconds. If too easy try 5 seconds! See what works for you.

-Chris Dorian, founder of Know Your Why Recovery 

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3 replies on “Box Breathing/Square Breathing”

[…] Breathing Exercises-Breathing exercises can help manage not only physical tension but the mental experience of stress. Some can be done in a high stress moment, others can be done regularly to help manage stress. We can also include meditation in this category. There are a number of free applications that can be downloaded to help guide you in breathing exercises or a meditation practice. For an example of an easy to use breathing exercise check out our previous blog on box/square breathing here. […]

[…] 3. Deep Breathing-try to take long, slow, deliberate breaths. Fill your belly as you breathe. Do this when you have a craving or for a few minutes a day to maintain a practice. Breathing in exercising like yoga and meditation can also help. Or try an exercise like square/box breathing (visit our blog about it here). […]

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