“Box Breathe” to Lower Stress at Work

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ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: These days, not surprisingly, we often get calls from clients who have, unfortunately, “lost it” at work, and for that reason may be in danger of losing their jobs. Whether it happens once, or ten times, it’s potentially characterized as misconduct, and thus “Cause” for firing. Such job loss usually comes without notice, without severance, without a decent reason to explain to future interviewers, forfeiture of unvested equity, even earned but yet-unpaid bonuses. It is a very, very risky thing to let happen.

Over the years, we have spent time studying ways to avoid “losing” it at work, and have found one that is really quite good. In fact, it is so good it is taught to U.S. Special Forces and the Navy Seal Teams, the ones who rescue imprisoned troops and neutralize top terrorists. It keeps them cool, calm and collected, even when bullets are whizzing past their heads. Studies have shown that they shoot more accurately, too, and are thus more effective in their work. It’s called “Box Breathing.”

Hey, if it works for them, it ought to work for you. I am not a doctor; nor am I a psychologist, or physiologist. But I use it nearly every day, and I can say, it sure works for me.

LESSON TO LEARNBox Breathing is quite simple. Anyone can do it. Here’s how:

    1. Step 1: Breathe in counting to four, slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
    2. Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Try to avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
    3. Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.
    4. Step 4: Hold your breath again for 4 seconds, without inhaling or exhaling.
  • Repeat these steps a few times.

According to published reports, in times of stress, it is your “sympathetic nervous system” that is on high alert for reasons to “fight or flight” in case of danger. Box breathing can help you move out of that state by tapping into the bodily system responsible for rest and digestion — the “parasympathetic nervous system.” The parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system. When we’re anxious, we breathe shallowly and quickly, which actually creates more anxiety within your body. We can use breathwork to move out of the fight-or-flight state and into the relaxation state.

It works by distracting your mind as you focus on counting to four, calming your nervous system, and lowering stress in your body. You can Box Breathe anywhere, anytime, in private or in public, even in stressful situations and meetings. No one will know. That’s what “Box Breathing” can do for you.

It is the simplicity and availability of Box Breathing that are its greatest strengths.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider these nine tips about Box Breathing:

    1. It’s good – but not necessary – to sit in a chair, back supported, with feet on the ground.
    2. If it’s not easy at first, don’t fret; it gets easier, better and more impactful over time.
    3. Try it over and over again, perhaps for 30 seconds. If you need a bit more, go to 60. If
      once is enough, that’s okay, too.
    4. Box Breathing lowers blood pressure and decreases the blood’s Cortisol level — a stress hormone — which can improve your mood.
    5. It lowers panic, worry, stress, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
    6. It increases your awareness and control of your feelings that might otherwise lead to expressions of anger, rage, and the like.
    7. If four seconds is too much, try two or three. I usually box breathe for counts of 7 or 8, as I’ve been doing Box Breathing for years now.
    8. Many people also do Box Breathing to decrease insomnia.
    9. Of great value, as you calm, you are more likely to engage in more thoughtful, creative, productive work effort.

In Summary . . .

Expressions of anger, sarcasm, insubordination, condescension or humiliation at work can result in job loss. It sure won’t help you win that promotion or new account. Here’s a simple and easy way you can avoid those job, career and reputation risks.

You can do it anywhere, anytime, and without being noticed. I can’t promise you it will lead to better health, but I think it’s also probably much better for your health and wellbeing than chemical sedatives. And it can help you sleep, too. Box Breathing: Do give it a try, especially if you sense you are near your “boiling point” at work, for any reason, toward any one. Please give some thought to how it can help you.

“Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad, let’s stay together.”

To help you and those you love to achieve all due reward, security and dignity at work, without charge we offer our “Sklover’s Private Library,” of newsletters, articles and posts, over 1.25 million words organized into 62 topics, each a part of the employment experience. They are the “lessons learned” in counseling and representing clients worldwide each day for over 40 years. There is nothing like it, anywhere. Just [click here.]

And to further assist you, we also offer you for a nominal charge our Model Memos, Letters and Checklists to literally Help You Help Yourself in these matters. Just [click here.]

To our best knowledge, no one in the world helps you at work in these ways like we do.
Always With You,
             Al Sklover



P.S.: If you would like to speak directly with us about this or other subjects, we are available for 30-, 60- or 120-minute telephone consultations, just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can often be accommodated.

SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid all likely bumps in the road. Avoiding expressions of anger and the like by means of Box Breathing is one way to do just that.

Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. Always be resilient. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.

*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.

Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.

Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the State of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Results obtained by some clients have no bearing on results obtained by other clients. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.

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