Why do Navy Seals use Box Breathing?

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Navy SEALs use box breathing to relieve stress.

Navy SEALs often find themselves in high-stress environments. Box breathing can be a useful mindfulness technique to aid in stress management as well as overall wellness.

  • Navy SEALs use box breathing to maintain calm.
  • Named after the fact that your breathing is divided into four steps, as if you were tracing the edges of a box.

Four steps to box breathing

These are the 4 steps to box breathing:

  1. Step 1
    • Breathe slowly through your nose and mentally count to four.
    • Focus on filling your lungs with air and your abdomen with air.
    • Feel how the air fills your lungs.
  2. Step 2
    • Take a deep breath.
    • Keep your eyes open and count to four.
  3. Step 3
    • Breathe slowly through your mouth, while mentally counting to 4.
    • Focus on clearing your lungs of all air.
  4. Step 4
    • Take a deep breath.
    • Keep your eyes open and count to four.

Continue to repeat this process until you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Navy SEALs practice box breathing for approximately five minutes.

US Navy SEALs recently used tactical breathing to aid soldiers in combat situations.

How can box breathing help relieve stress?

Slow breathing techniques can be effective for stress reduction in the long-term. However, box breathing works wonders in stressful situations because it calms your autonomic nervous systems.

  • This system regulates many bodily functions, including blood pressure and body temperature.
  • It is composed of two parts: the sympathetic system which stimulates bodily activity (fight/flight) and the parasympathetic, which relaxes your body (“rest and digest”).
  • Holding your breath causes your blood CO2 levels to rise, which can increase the cardioinhibitory response, which lowers your heart rate.
  • This activates parasympathetic nervous systems, which results in a relaxing and calming effect. Or, to put it another manner, you can breathe slowly and feel relieved of stress.

There are 4 great benefits to box breathing

Box breathing can be used to overcome stress and improve your body’s response to stress and anxious.

Here are four health benefits to box breathing.

  1. Improves mental well-being:
    • If you have ever thought of meditating to reduce stress or improve your mental Health, then the box breathing technique might be something that you should learn.
    • Breathing is directly linked to cognitive activity like thinking and reasoning.
    • Some studies show that taking slow, mindful breathes can reduce stress levels and feelings of depression.
  2. Heightens cognitive performance:
    • Box breathing helps to clear the mind and allows for more focus and concentration.
    • People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders can manage their impulsive behaviors by engaging in deep, rhythmic breathing exercises.
    • Slow, controlled breathing helps to balance the nervous system. This allows you to focus more and clear your mind.
  3. It improves the body’s response to stress in the future.
    • Box breathing can help you reset your body and mind.
    • Research has shown that deep breathing exercises are able to activate genes related to energy and Insul levels, while decreasing stress and inflammation.
  4. This helps to deactivate the fight or flight response
    • Two subsystems of autonomic nervous systems are the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
    • The sympathetic nervous system activates when the body is in “fight, fight, or freeze” mode. It prepares itself for survival by releasing stress hormone cortisol (dilation and suppression of pain perception).
    • Deep breathing allows the body to enter the parasympathetic, or “rest and digestion” mode. This helps it calm down during stressful situations.
    • A panic attack is when the body goes into this mode without being triggered.

Here’s how you can practice box breathing:

  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  2. Sit straight, either on the ground or in a chair with your feet flat.
  3. For a count of 4, close your eyes and exhale.
  4. For a count of 4, hold your breath.
  5. For a count of 4, exhale.
  6. For a count of 4, hold the key.

Continue doing this until the alarm goes off.

What is tactical breathing?

Navy SEALs can induce relaxation in their bodies when under pressure. Anyone can use these breathing techniques to manage stress. They also use box breathing and tactical breathing.

Tactical breathing can be used to trigger the fight-or flight response.

Here’s how to perform tactical breathing:

  1. Place your right hand on your stomach and inhale deeply.
  2. Draw your breath upwards from your abdomen towards your upper chest. Inhale through your nostrils.
  3. Slowly inhale, starting at your chest and working your ways down to your abdomen. While you breathe, consider your navel in contact with your spine.
  4. When you feel comfortable taking a deep, full breath, exhale again.
  5. Breathe until you reach the count of 4, then pause for a moment
  6. Exhale until you reach the count of 8.

You should repeat this at least three more times.

Box breathing and tactical breathing are based upon pranayama, an Ayurvedic form of breath-work that originated from India. There are many techniques to calm, bring in energy, focus and relax the nervous system. It was only recently made mainstream by the military.

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