This article appeared on Spartan Unbreakable and has been published here with permission.
The best tools to get us through life’s toughest obstacles are free. The most important artillery for life’s obstacles isn’t something we buy; it’s something we build. One of the most powerful tools? Your breath!
Why Proper Breathing Is SO Critical
Let’s face it: We are stressed to the max. According to a Gallup poll from 2019, Americans are some of the most stressed people in the world. Add a global pandemic, social isolation, and economic upheaval into the mix, and that stress level has only increased. We’re in trouble, and we need a healthy escape. Even if you’re working out, taking cold showers, and meditating, stress inevitably builds up throughout the day. Having a quick valve to decompress is critical.
I’m not a yogi, like my mom was, and I never will be. But when it comes to breathing, I’m all in. The science is irrefutable. Breathing is good for your mind and your body, and in today’s world — where chaos is at every turn — we need something at our disposal that calms us down fast.
Not all of the science has been completely ironed out yet, but there is one thing we know for sure: Breathing changes your state of mind. Neuroscientists at the University of California, San Francisco have been conducting research on what they call the “breathing pacemaker,” which basically tells your brain to chill out. The details are still a bit hazy, but the consensus is that changing your breathing is a surefire way to change your state of mind.
Breathing truth: When you focus on slowing your breath, you are tapping the breaks on your entire regulatory system, which lowers your blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a big problem in the U.S., and the even bigger problem, heart disease, is the No. 1 cause of death in America. The fact that we have this medication-free, no-cost, available-to-you-whenever tool that helps reduce blood pressure is one more reason to start your deep and slow breaths right now.
Box Breathing Is a Game Changer
Still not convinced? Check out what the Navy SEALs are doing. Former U.S. Navy SEALs Commander Mark Divine — also the founder of Unbeatable Mind & SEALFIT — recommends box breathing. His method goes as follows:
Hold a deep breath in for four counts, take a deep breath out for four more, and then hold again for four counts. This method is both simple and satisfying, as you feel yourself literally begin to turn down the volume on all things stressful.
Very little feels in our control right now, but as I’ve been reminded time and time again by Dr. Lara Pence, Spartan Chief Mind Doc, “feelings aren’t facts.” We have more control over our mind and our body than we think we do. And your breath is one thing that you can control and implement for free.
Start now and take control of your own stress level.