Next time you feel overwhelmed by stress or need to stay mentally sharp in a high-stress situation, try tactical breathing.
This breathwork (sometimes referred to as box breathing) is used by military and law enforcement personnel to remain calm and collected in dangerous situations. It works like this:
- Gradually take a full inhalation through the nose while counting one, two, three, four. With each count, draw in more air, so when you reach the count of four, you inhale to your maximum.
- Hold your breath as you count one, two, three, four again.
- Then slowly exhale through the mouth, again counting from one to four. Release some air with each count, fully exhaling when you reach four.
- After full exhalation, hold your breath again for a count of four.
- Repeat the breathing cycle several times.
Tactical breathing can damp down the body's sympathetic nervous system, which directs our response to dangerous or stressful situations. It also engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body's ability to relax.
Tactical breathing also can be used to calm a racing mind when you're trying to sleep and to help soothe pain.
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