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Box Breathing

Box breathing is a simple and rapid way to put your mind and body into a more relaxed state in the middle of a stressful day or moment. The name comes from the four sides of a box. It goes by some similar names, including square breathing, 4x4 breathing, and four-square breathing.

You basically do a four-part breath four times. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can clear your head of racing and buzzing thoughts.

When you practice breathing, make sure you’re taking deep full breaths. Place one hand on your belly around the belly button and the other on your chest. When you breathe in, you should feel your belly expanding. If your chest is moving in and out, but your belly isn’t, your breath is too shallow. Imagine you’re wearing oversized pants without a belt, and you need to expand your belly to keep your pants from falling down! Inflate your belly like a balloon.

Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 4. Notice how the air fills your lungs and your belly.

  • Hold the breath for a slow count of 4.
  • Exhale slowly for a slow count of 4.
  • Hold the breath out for a slow count of 4.
  • Repeat steps 1-4 four times.

That’s all there is to it. Get in the habit of doing it whenever you notice your thoughts are going around in circles, or you’re multi-tasking frenetically, or you’re ruminating about something that’s really not important. Once it gets to be a habit, you can use box breathing in more challenging situations when you need to stay calm or get calm. I often practice it when I need to tackle a difficult problem or situation and want to make sure I’m thinking clearly, or when it's a day off and I find I'm thinking about work or problems instead of relaxing. 

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