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Mindful ActivityBox Breathing

Box Breathing

Find your focus in minutes. Breathe with the box for a quick mental reset.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace. Unrivaled expertise to make life feel a little easier, using guided meditations, mindfulness tips, focus tools, sleep support, and dedicated programs.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace


TypeMindful Activity
Duration5 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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Frequently asked questions

  • Box breathing is a technique that offers a quick and easy way to restore a sense of calm when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It’s called “box breathing” because of the visual of a box that’s often used to demonstrate the required rhythm of breathing. A box has four sides, and this exercise has four steps that represent each side of “the box”. You count to four each time you take a deep, slow, intentional breath, then hold that in-breath for four seconds; you exhale for four seconds, then hold the out-breath for a further four seconds … and repeat as often as you like. It’s a great way to reset after a stressful situation or emotion.

  • When life starts to feel overwhelming, or an emotion feels too much, you can start to feel calmer and more present using this technique — one of the more immediate benefits of box breathing. By focusing on the breath in such a deliberate way (counting to four with each inhale and exhale), you divert the mind’s attention away from racing thoughts or heightened emotions, and instead use the breath as your anchor to the moment. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to relieve stress.

  • Box breathing couldn’t be more straightforward and can be practiced either sitting or standing, whenever the need arises, by using our in-app, five minute Box Breathing exercise. Essentially, a standard exercise of this type starts with you taking a slow, deep breath in through the nose while counting to four — 1, 2, 3, 4 — feeling the air fill your lungs; hold that in-breath for four seconds — 1, 2, 3, 4; exhale through the mouth — 1, 2, 3, 4; and hold that out-breath for 1, 2, 3, 4 before inhaling again. Repeat as necessary, until you feel a little calmer and more present.

  • As with any breathing technique, the more you practice box breathing, the more it will become part of a healthy, daily routine. Maybe set an alarm to do some box breathing mid-afternoon and then mid-evening, to help you feel calmer and more balanced through the day. Some people find it helpful to place one hand on the chest and one hand on the belly so that you can feel the rise and fall of each breath.

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