Navy SEAL Breathing Can Help Stress

If anyone knows about how to handle stress effectively, it’s the Navy SEALs. They have to function in high-stress situations all the time. Feeling a little stress might be good in a heat-of-the-moment condition, but it doesn’t help you in the long haul. That’s why they have to learn how to manage it. We want to share a technique they use that can be helpful to all of us here at home! This breathing method can help you when you have moments when you feel overwhelmed.

Stress and anxiety trigger neurocircuitry that was designed to be used sparingly to deal with life-or-death threats, not on a daily basis,” said Lynne Everatt, Toronto-based wellness expert, personal trainer and co-author of The 5-minute Recharge. “Chronic stress has a corrosive effect on the brain that has been linked to degeneration of the hippocampus (the brain’s memory center) and impaired functioning of the prefrontal cortex that can manifest in our lives as depression, dementia and impaired executive function.”

Simple breathing exercises help SEALs unwind and center themselves. Your body needs a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to function correctly and without undue burden.

Box breathing is a technique that helps you take control of your automatic breathing patterns to train your breath for optimal health and performance,” said Mark Divine, former US Navy SEALs Commander, author of The Way of the SEAL and founder of SEALFIT.

He explained, “It combines the practice of optimal breathing with para-sympathetic activation, concentration and mindfulness training.”

Box breathing is easy. Picture a square in your mind. You follow it as a path as you breathe. Each side of the square is four seconds long. On the first side, you breathe in through your nose for four seconds, counting the seconds. Then on the second side, you hold your breath. On the third side, you slowly exhale through your nose for four seconds, counting again as you mentally travel along the side of the square. On the fourth side, you hold your breath again. You repeat the pattern again until you feel calm. For best results, breathe like this for a full five minutes.

If you feel agitated at all on the exhale hold, you can shorten it to a two or three count. If four count is easy, consider doing it for five or six counts,” Commander Divine said. “Box breathing allowed me to perform exceedingly well in the SEALs. It was instrumental in saving my life several times in crises. I was able to remain calm and focus clearly to avoid reactionary thinking, or worse, panic.”

Resetting your breathing patterns can stop your body from having a panic attack, being in fight-or-flight mode or having an anxiety attack. It aids your nervous system and heart. Using this Navy SEAL-approved method could help you through rough moments, make good decisions and get your day back on track!  

Banner image: maimonidesem.org
April 07, 2021
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