When nervous, stressed, angry, or anxious, most people tend to alter their natural breathing pattern – some people breathe shallowly, and others actually hold their breath. Tactical breathing, which is also known as box breathing, combat breathing, yoga breathing, and square breathing, is a technique that helps mitigate the effects of stress, as well as release pent-up aggression and tension.
Tactical breathing helps increase lung function and capacity, but best of all, it helps improve your overall health. Not only that, tactical breathing is incredibly simple to learn, and can be done anywhere, at any time.
Want to reduce stress? Breath in sync with the following tactical breathing tool.
How It Works
Here is how the tactical breathing tool above works:
Step #1: Locate a quiet, comfortable place. Take a load off and relax. This will be where you conduct this breathing exercise.
Step #2: Inhale for four seconds (the dial above takes exactly four seconds to fill).
Step #3: Hold the air in your lunges for four seconds (while the dial above displays the “Hold!” message).
Step #4: Exhale for four seconds (the dial above takes exactly four seconds to empty).
Step #5: Hold your lunges empty for four seconds (while the dial above displays the “Hold!” message again).
Step #6: Start the process over again. Keep repeating this exercise until you no longer feel stressed and anxious.
Tactical Breathing Uses
Tactical breathing can help you handle high pressure situations like test-taking, flying, job interviews, driving in bad weather or traffic, playing sports, and (for women) giving birth. In fact, a study done in May of 2007 found that “paying attention to breathing significantly reduced respiratory rate and decreased tidal volume instability, and that shallow breathing made all groups more anxious than the other breathing methods. To understand the results of breathing instructions for stress and anxiety management, respiration needs to be monitored physiologically.”
According to AZCentral, deep-breathing exercises like tactical breathing are a great way to manage emotions and are beneficial for young children with anger problems, helping teach them social responsibility. Psychologists teach tactical breathing with meditation to cultivate awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations within and around you, and it can be a useful tool to fight insomnia.
Like this article suggests, tactical breathing is a popular breathing technique utilized by the Navy SEALs. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone though – Navy SEALs have a reputation as the most mentally tough and physically fit training regimen in the military. In fact, the Basic Underwater Demolition/Seals (BUDS) is arguably the most physically challenging and mentally draining training program in the world. Take that Tough Mudder warriors!
Tactical Breathing Tips
Like I mentioned in step one of the tactical breathing exercise above, finding a relaxing, quiet room to do the exercise is important for maintaining focus. Put on some comfortable clothing, sit in a relaxing chair or bed, and get focused.
Experts suggest that you “scan your body” for any signs of stress or tension. While breathing, try to keep your legs, arms, shoulders, neck, and head as loose as possible. If you need some extra guidance, think of a positive thought or mental image – that should help give you something to focus on. You can even repeat the popular meditation chant “Ohmmm” like a Buddhist monk if you need to! Cheesy, I know.
Like with most exercises, the more you practice tactical breathing, the better you will become at using it during stressful situations. Because after all, if Navy SEALs can use this technique while faced with actual life and death situations, I think we can use it too.
Tactical breathing is used by people in all professions including firemen, police officers, competitive handgun shooters, NFL quarterbacks, NHL goaltenders, Olympic swimmers, and much more. Has tactical breathing helped you?