Box Breathing to Reduce Stress Hormones

Did you know that your breathing can send the message to your body that you are either in danger or safe?

Short, shallow breathing from the chest, which we often fall into unconsciously during periods of stress, sends the message to our brain that we are in danger and this leads to the release of ‘stress’ hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Stress hormones are not our friend when we are trying to shed unwanted body fat. Put simply, they cause our body to protect fat stores and burn glucose only as a fuel source (because glucose provides us with the fast burning energy we need to get out of danger - get it?)

The issue is: most of the time we aren’t really in danger. It’s our perception to stressful situations that causes our body to have this ‘danger’ response. Our body can’t differentiate between real danger and perceived danger.

So how do we stop this pattern?

For a true and long lasting resolve to this pickle, you’ll want to start examining your perception of stressful situations. This means learning a new habit and re-patterning your brain. Totally possible to do this but this is a post for another day. For a quicker short term fix to get yourself to calm down and stop those pesky stress hormones from becoming elevated so often try BOX BREATHING.

Your breathing is an immediate signal to your body about your state of safety. If it’s short sharp and shallow from the chest, your body thinks you’re in danger. If it’s deep, slow and calm from the belly, your body will get the message that you are safe and secure and hence allow all the normal metabolic processes to continue as if you are safe (you’ll burn body fat efficiently and more easily). Here's how it works:

-Calm your mind and focus on your breathing. -Relax your neck and jaw and shoulders and arms. -As you take a long inhale across 4 seconds allow your belly to expand as if all the air from your inhale is filling up your belly. -Hold it there for 4 seconds. -Slowly exhale the air over 4 seconds and let your belly naturally contract back to a resting state as the air leaves your body. -Hold it there for 4 seconds. -Repeat for 1min, 2mins, 5mins or 10mins. As much time as you can allow in that moment. 1minute is better than no minutes at all.

You can do this exercise seated or lying down. You can even do it walking or moving about the home or office. The more often you do it, the more your body will believe you’re safe and the easier it will be for your body to allow fat burning to take place. This is called Belly Breathing, or Diaphragmatic Breathing or Box Breathing. The belly expanding as we inhale and contracting as we exhale is how it is supposed to naturally move. Look at a baby’s belly as he breathes. This is natural and this is safety. Try it today to not only calm the anxiety and improve the focus but also to help the body get into prime fat burning mode.

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