I'm ready to level up!

How to Reduce Anxiety Through Breathing

Jul 10, 2021

Have you ever experienced anxiety or overwhelm? If you're human then you will most likely say yes. Did you know that over 270 million people suffered from anxiety or depression in a study from 2017 - I imagine with the covid pandemic that things have worsened. 

Suffering and pain are at the core of what I aim to solve with my clients and my family. Over the years I've attended a number of life changing events that uncovered many natural ways to reduce the feelings and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Have I been immune to anxiety, hell no! There have been so many times when I've experienced that anxious feeling... the multiple earthquakes, public speaking, parting ways with my former wife. BUT - I have developed mechanisms to help cope with these anxious moments.

In this week's podcast I actually walk you through a breathing technique that is proven to reduce blood pressure, reduce your heart rate and reduce anxiety! Box Breathing is a technique that has been used by the special forces around the world to help their personnel maintain a cool, calm and collected demeanour when faced with adversity or fear.

I first learned to Box Breathe when I was at a life and wealth mastery event in Fiji at Tony Robbins' resort. It wasn't part of the official program, but someone at the event shared it nonetheless.  It's the most simple technique, and the effects are almost instantaneous. I urge you to go walk through it on my podcast. 

Please share the podcast link with a friend who might benefit from it.

Here's an overview of box breathing:

Step 1. Close your eyes

Step 2. For 4 slow counts - breathe deeply through your nose, filling your belly first followed by your upper lungs.

Step 3. For 4 slow counts - hold your breath.

Step 4. For 4 slow counts - gently let your breath roll out.

Step 5. For 4 slow counts - hold your breath.

Step 6. Repeat the above steps 7 or 8 times. 

The idea is to build the muscle - so repetition is essential. Often we reach for a remedy when we are experiencing overwhelm or stress. But it is so much more effective if you practice it every day. Forming the habit of doing your box breathing will create a solid foundation for you, so when anxiety kicks in at work, at home or in life ... you'll have a technique that will guide you through it.

If you have any other anxiety prevention/management techniques please drop me a line and share them. You can DM me on Instagram - @JamesLaughlinOfficial


Not to be missed...

Receive weekly tips from James on how to Live Your Life on Purpose. James interviews some of the leading performers in business, sport and life. Learn from the worlds greatest, each and every week for FREE. Click here to sign up!


Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin. For weekly motivation please subscribe to the Apple Podcast, Spotify or YouTube Channel.


James Laughlin, Life Coach and Leadership Coach, Christchurch, New Zealand

Welcome to Life on Purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now a success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show!    Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about the purpose club. I started the purpose club quite some time ago, so that I could coach people of all backgrounds. Not everybody has access to coaching. And certainly, it can be at all people's price range. So, I wanted to create a community where I coach my members each month and it's incredibly affordable. And I do a deep dive monthly live session and deliver my best techniques, strategies and habits. And I impart great lessons on leadership, motivation, mindset, abundance, habit installation, and you're creating a lasting legacy. There's free replays in there from all the previous live casts, there's high impact worksheets for you to take home and actually work through throughout the month, you'll receive weekly planning emails with actual planners to fill out your week, you'll get a weekly self-evaluation email, where you can evaluate yourself on all different levels, relationship, life, business, wealth, career, everything that you want, you'll get weekly journal prompts to really get your mind tuned into that higher level thinking. And also on a monthly basis, you'll get planning worksheets and reflections for your month. So, if you would like to learn about it, please get in touch with me or someone in my team, you know, jump on Instagram James Laughlin official, drop me a DM or you can email me James at jjlaughlin.com or just go to the website jjlaughlin.com and check it out. Enjoy the show and I hope to see some of you guys over in the purpose club. Have you ever felt that anxiety in the pit of your stomach, that overwhelming disabling feeling that just doesn't allow you to breathe, that doesn't allow you to function the way you normally function. Well, 264 million people globally suffer from anxiety or depression. And 40 million people suffer from that in the US alone. Now guys, these are the reported figures, there's going to be so much more. And we know that men tend to bottle things up man's ability to communicate these things, particularly around health, mental well-being, we tend to bottle those things out, right? So, let's chat about what we can do. Because ongoing stress, and you know, depression, anxiety, all of that take its toll it has an impact on your mindset and your body. In fact, ongoing stress contributes to much higher rates of high blood pressure, headaches, heart attack, stroke, all the horrible things that we try our best in life to avoid. And there is an answer to this, there's something I'm going to show you today that can really help prevent those long-term debilitating diseases. And it's all about embracing a new mindset and B a new skill set. And if you look through your life, you know, there's probably been moments where your anxiety has been high, it could have been a transitional period where maybe you'd left a relationship, or you were getting divorced. Maybe it was you're moving school or moving neighbourhoods, moving house, you know, as an adult, when you move house, it's a highly anxious time. It could have been maybe when you're lost your job and you're struggling to pay your rent or your mortgage. It could be the thought of standing up and talking in front of 100 colleagues. All of these events and transitions, they take a toll on us and that's at a mental level, but it expresses itself at a physical level. So, I learned a technique called box breathing. And this technique was shared with me from an ex-navy seal. And essentially the navy seals, which are equivalent to the SAS. They use this technique to lower their stress rates so that they can think more clearly so that they can perform their duties without any distractions and so they can live a longer, healthier life. So, the whole reason that we're going to have today's discussion, and I'm actually going to take you through a box breathing exercise. The reason we're having this discussion, though, is that I want you to have tools in your toolkit to navigate some of the most stressful times in your life. Because positive psychology is amazing. However, we cannot be rainbows and butterflies, 24/7. We've all got different stressors. Some of that could be a sick child at home, who's sick all weekend, you know, day and night, you're getting no sleep. It could be that you have, you know, a really big opportunity at work, but you're not sure if you're going to get that opportunity and you're working hard, that's stressful, that's anxiety inducing, right? All different things, you know, becoming a parent, the thought of a baby coming into your life that brings its anxieties, right? So, I want to share this box breathing technique with you. Some people will call it for square breathing. But box breathing is the one I like to use. And it will help lower cortisol. And you know, it will definitely help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. clinical studies have showed this. So, do you want to be one of the 264 million people who has anxiety or depression and chooses not to do something? And if going to the doctor and getting medication is the right thing and you need that do that, please, I'm not a medical practitioner. What I'm sharing with you is a technique that has shown results for people of all shapes and sizes, all walks of life, showing great results in reducing stress, bringing blood pressure down and it can be done so quickly. I personally have used it on a couple of occasions. So, first occasion would have been 2011. 2011, we had a massive earthquake here in Christchurch, New Zealand. And I've never had an earthquake, you know, growing up in Northern Ireland, we had we had our own fair share of craziness there with warring factions, but don't hear we have, you know, different challenges. I've never experienced an earthquake. And so, there's earthquake struck, it scared the crap clean out of me. And it was, you know, 4am in the morning, I'm clinging on to the doorframe. And it's just horrible. Like, what do we do? It feels like we're on a boat, and it's rocking side to side. So dealt with that in the coming days and weeks. But what I didn't realise is there would be aftershocks. So, we had like 7000 or more aftershocks. Some of them were small on the you know, the magnitude, the Richter scale, others were up in the sixes and sevens. And in fact, one of the aftershocks created the most devastation and loss of life. So, for me as, okay, I'm feeling a stress, I'm choosing alcohol and binge-watching crap TV. This is not serving me or my family well. So, I started looking at options and got some coaching and came across the box breathing and starting to use this box breathing. And literally instantly, I felt a difference. No, box breathing is not a life hack, it's not something that's going to do a quick fix for you. This is something that has to be ongoing. This is like going to the gym, you know, when you get your gains at the gym, good. That's the start. But to keep your gains, you got to keep showing up. Box breathing is no different.  

If you want to manage your anxiety, you want to manage your depression, manage your overwhelm stress, whenever you want to call it. Then it's important that you show up and you perform healthy habits that really help you to manage it. So, box breathing, here we go. 



Let's give it a go. So, if you're driving a car or some kind of motor vehicle, please don't try this until you've pulled over and you're chilled out. Hopefully you're sitting somewhere comfortable. If you're doing this walking, it could work. But it's going to be excellent if you can sit down for a moment. Okay, and just for a moment, if you're out for a walk, sit down in the grass, ground yourself, grab a chair somewhere. But let's take a look at what the effects are. And you should notice this instantly. So, let's talk about how we breathe first. The quality of our breath is so important. Too few of us breathe through our nose and breathing through our nose is a much higher quality form of breathing. So, I want this when you're breathing in, breathing in through your nose, and then it's up to you. You can breathe out through your nose or your mouth but definitely in through your nose. Okay, it's a natural filtration system if you breathe in through your nose, and it allows you to go deeper into the diaphragm. So, we're going to be doing diaphragmatic breathing simply all that means is when you're breathing in, let your belly gently move out. Don't force it with your muscles. You should be no forcing. Gently let the belly go out to the lungs are filling up and then fill the top of your lungs as well after that, and then we're going to hold then we're going to breathe out slowly. Then we're going to hold and we're going to repeat that. So, what we're going to do is hold for 4 counts, you can decide how long you want four cones to be, it could be 1,2,3,4. The longer you make them, the more impactful this breathing is. So, I'm going to do them, probably somewhere in the middle, I'm not doing too long, not doing too short. But the way I would normally do them is a little longer than one I'd like to do. But the reason is I built up to that. So, I want you just to take your time and deep, intentional breathing. So, first things first is close your eyes. Become aware of your breath. Nice, natural, normal pace. Shortly, we're going to take a big deep breath in through our nose and fill our belly diaphragmatic breathing, and we're going to hold it, then we're going to breathe out, then we're going to hold it and we're going to repeat that a few times. Okay, so I'm just going to count it out for you, I want you to perform the exercise is going to be counts of four. Okay, so here we go. Take a deep breath in 2 ,3 ,4, hold 2 ,3, 4. Out 2, 3 ,4. Hold 2, 3, 4. Big deep breath in again 2 ,3 ,4. Hold up breath 2, 3, 4. Let it all out, nice and gently 2,3,4. Hold up 2, 3, 4. Big sdeep breath and fill that belly fill that diaphragm then the top of the lungs. 3, 4. Hold 2, 3, 4. Let it roll out 2, 3, 4. Hold it 2, 3, 4. One last massive deep breath in through the nose, fill that belly, then up to the top of the lungs. 3, 4. Hold 2, 3, 4. Let it all out 2, 3, 4. There we go. Keep your eyes closed for a while. And just ask yourself, why do I feel? Because box breathing is about changing your state, your state of being. So, it should bring about a feeling. And this exercise this breathing exercise is something you want to revisit at least once a day. If you can do it to start your day off, you're starting off with real intention, as opposed to reactivity, reaching for your phone reactivity, checking your Instagram, your email reactivity. Start with some breath work. Fill your body with relaxation, lower your cortisol, lower your blood pressure, increase your focus. So, the whole idea about box breathing is to do it until you feel different. So, it might take you 10 rounds of that rather than we just did three or four there. It might mean that you do counts of five or six. To start, you might want to do kind of two or three, do what's comfortable for you. But the whole idea is for you to have a technique and it's not a life hack because because it doesn't happen quick, and it doesn't change everything in an instant. And then it's changed forever. It's not a permanent change. It's a habit to daily habit. You know, it's you creating something really intentional to manage your stress. And if you're human, and you're listening to this, which you probably are, then I would suggest you experience some level of anxiety or stress. I do Hell yeah. 

People like James are so happy and so positive. Yes, I am. It's a choice. But there are still times when I'm stressed. There are still times when I'm challenged or worried there's still times when I feel a little on edge or anxious. That's when I do my box breathing. In fact, I did it really recently I interviewed a former prime minister of New Zealand and the morning of us feeling a little bit edgy. I don't call it anxiety, but I guess it is. And I did the box breathing for like three minutes and I felt so chill. And I had such a great interview. It was amazing. I will be sharing it with you guys shortly. I've just got it being edited right now. And refined. But it will be on the podcast soon. It was an amazing, amazing morning. So, I'm super excited to share that with you. But this breath work guys, I want to ask you to do me a favour share this technique with someone even better share the podcast link with that I would love if you did that, I'd surely word. And if you would like to be around like-minded people and be around people who want to grow and learn and take their lives to that next level then please consider coming and joining my purpose club. My purpose club is an incredible community of people where I go live every month and host an amazing coaching session on different topics this past month was on how to cultivate heart centred leadership and it's for all different people have got stay at home parents. I've got CEOs of million-dollar companies, I've got startups, I've got doctors, lawyers, I've got all different types of people, students the lot, ranging from like 17 up to I think the oldest person is 67. So please come and join us. And if you want to know more about that, just you know, you can drop me a DM on Instagram. So, it's James Laughlin official, or you can go check out my website jjlaughlin.com and Laughlin is spelled L.A.U.G.H.L.I.N. There's like 20 different spellings of Laughlin, I literally have to spell it all the time. So spelt, Laughlin L.A.U.G.H.L.I.N. Please come and say hello. I'd love to connect. And if you just want to know more about the purpose club, drop me a line and I'll get back to you. But whatever you do, please enjoy the rest of your day, your week and weekend. Whenever you listen to this, just enjoy it and be so present. Take a moment to breathe, give your body that gift. It's a free gift and get out there and live life on purpose.  


Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love, love, love If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks and folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.