The 4-4-4 Relaxation Hack

Raise your hand if you’re stressed? 

If we gathered all my readers in a room (we’d need a big room), I bet a lot of hands would shoot up.

It’s no wonder. There’s a lot to be stressed and anxious about. From the world at large to your own small corner of it. 

But I want to let you in on a little trick that my friend Cade Courtley shared with me recently. If you recall, he’s a former Navy SEAL, sniper, and platoon commander. 

Simply put, he’s seen some stressful situations you and I hopefully never will. 

SEALs certainly aren’t immune to stress. Special forces, tactical teams, law enforcement – they face extensive stress all the time. 

Though at its core, what they feel is not that different from a traffic jam, big presentation, or argument you and I might face at home. 

The burst of adrenalin during stressful times can make us anxious, jittery, disrupt our digestion, and wring us out. 

So what SEALs do – and it can work for us too – is something called “combat breathing.” 

Even police psychologists preach the virtues of this technique. In fact, some say it should start with officers on day one in training, so it becomes automatic.  

And if you practice it enough, it’ll become automatic to you, too.

It seems silly to talk about how to breathe. After all, you’ve been doing it since “day one” yourself.  

But this way is different. And structured.

Still, it’s easy to follow. Just remember “4-4-4.” 

  •     Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
  •     Hold it for a count of 4.
  •     Then exhale through your mouth for a count of 4. 

 And repeat.  

Anytime you’re feeling stressed, anxious, nervous, or scared, or you need to regain your composure, this simple trick does wonders. 

Trust me. Try it right now for yourself – you’ll see. 

I find it’s useful as the beginning of a wind-down routine at night. And also as a way to start my day. 

It helps me refocus, calm myself, and feel a little more grounded. 

And it’s a perfect way to beat the stress of traffic or long lines. Plus, if you’re at the beginning of an argument, it’s an excellent way to keep your head about you. 

There are other great ways to beat stress of course. Regular exercise. Sound sleep. Nutrients that beat back stress hormones and relax you.  

But the 4-4-4 combat breathing technique is something easy to remember, easy to do, and incredibly effective. 

Give it a try!  

P.S. If you’re wondering, could kids try combat breathing… of course they can. If you have children in your life, teach it to them.  

It’s a great way for them to calm their nerves before a big test. (Just tell them you learned it from a SEAL.)

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