A young man relaxes his mind from stress while lying on the grass, with his hands behind his head, staring up at a bright blue sky and palm trees

How to Relax Your Mind From Stress in 5 Easy Steps

Stress is a natural response to external or internal pressures and demands, and in small amounts, it can be helpful. But too much of it can send us into survival mode, making it difficult to calm down. Learning how to relax your mind from stress daily can help you feel less overwhelmed and promote your long-term mental and physical well-being.


A relaxation technique for the mind and body

The way we breathe is closely related to our levels of stress in mind and body. This is due to the fact that the vagus nerve, a command centre of sorts for the nervous system, links many organs, including the lungs, to the brain.


We can use this connection between mind and body to relax when we feel stressed out or emotionally overwhelmed. Studies show that breathing in a certain pattern can relax both mind and body, shifting us from a state of stress to one of calm balance.


This patterned breathing is known as box breathing (or square breathing, or four-square breathing). It is a simple yet effective relaxation technique to promote calmness and alleviate stress.


The technique involves inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and then maintaining an empty breath-hold, each for an equal count of seconds, typically four or five. 


The technique’s rhythmic pattern helps regulate the breath, which activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve. This activation triggers a relaxation response, shifting our mind and body out of survival mode. By consciously controlling the breath in this rhythmic manner, box breathing helps us manage stress and anxiety, lowers our heart rate, and promotes a sense of mental clarity.


How to relax your mind from stress in 5 steps

Follow the pattern of breathing below. Repeat until two minutes have passed, or until your body and mind feel more relaxed and less stressed.


Place one hand on your chest, to make sure it is not moving as you breathe. Place your other hand on your belly, to make sure you’re taking deep breaths. You should feel your belly expand and flatten every time you breathe in and out, respectively.


Step 1: Breathe deeply into your belly (4 seconds)

Step 2: Hold your breath (4 seconds)

Step 3: Breathe out slowly and fully (4 seconds)

Step 4: Pause without breathing (4 seconds)

Step 5: Repeat


Follow along with the video, as it guides you through the five steps for relaxing your mind from stress:


Box breathing is a very versatile technique for relaxing both mind and body. It can be used as an emergency tool that helps us relax in the middle of a stressful situation or environment, or it can be practised daily to promote a calmer, more balanced state of mind and body.


Including this five-step relaxation exercise in your daily routine, typically in the morning, is the best way to manage ongoing stress. Not only does it prepare our mind and body to handle whatever stress comes our way, it also helps us develop a strong habit of using this technique to relax the mind and body. This leaves us more likely to reach for the technique whenever we feel stressed out and overwhelmed.




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Vidula V Sawant (M.A., M.Phil., CRR No. A80980) is a clinical psychologist with 5+ years of experience and a passion for understanding the complexities of our minds and behaviours.

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