Everyone experiences stress to some degree, and for many of us, stress is a part of life and a common experience.
According to the national institute of mental health, stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life.3 Any type of challenges—such as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic event—can be stressful.
Every year, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts a stress survey in the United States. They consider a variety of external elements that affect stress levels. Work, family issues, health issues, and financial obligations are some of the primary factors of stress that typically lead to higher stress levels.1
The economy and work have become significant stressors for more Americans. 7 in 10 employed adults (70%) say work is a significant source of stress in their lives. 2
COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s lives. It disrupted work, economy, and relationships.
According to the APA 2020 survey, nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant cause of stress in their life, and nearly half of adults (49%) say their behavior has been negatively affected. 2
A certain level of stress seems to be normal at work as well as at home. But the consequences of long-lasting stress can be serious and even devastating. And we don’t want that!
How can we handle stress in healthy ways?
There are many techniques and ways for dealing with stress in a healthy way, such as exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, practicing yoga, going for a walk, taking a bath, spending time with a pet, etc.
I happen to like all of these methods and try to add them to my daily routine. For years, I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation. I am trying to pay attention to my physical and mental health. But stress is an unavoidable part of life, and it is not easy, at least for me, to be always mindful.
Besides, I realized that when I’m stressed out, I completely forgot all of the techniques.
One simple practice to relieve stress fast, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
I found myself many times especially in my workplace in those situations where I’m experiencing overwhelming stressors and I realize that I have to calm down right away.
There’s no time to go for a walk outside, cuddle with a friend, or do yoga.
I found a quick and simple technique that I can use at home, work, or on the go. This technique is just either called box breathing or square breathing, and it works exactly as it sounds.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus on your breathing, making it slower and deeper. This helps to lower your heart rate, giving you a feeling of peace.
While breathing and counting, imagine a square. Each step is a square corner; when you count to four, go down one side of the square at a time.
you can use a visual aid or anything square-shaped around you – business card, keyboard key, tea box, window, etc.
- Inhale for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
- Exhale for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
Using the following GIF might also help you to focus. You can visualize the square in your mind after a few sessions of square breathing.
I usually count four or five times with my fingers and go around the square depending on how stressed out I am. it’s really helpful for me to relieve my stress, and just kind of help relax me in general.
this video teaches square breathing visualization technique: