Breathe Through It

As a runner and fitness enthusiast, breathing through the pain is one of the biggest lessons I have to remind myself of. Every. Single. Day. Have you ever had that incredibly painful stabbing feeling in your side that makes you feel like your just HAVE to stop? Ugh, me too.

It’s not exactly clear why it happens, but I’ve learned that when I feel that pain I don’t actually have to stop (eventhough my mind is telling me to). Instead, if I just breathe more deeply the pain will go away! It’s called belly breathing or breathing from your abdomen (or your turkey as my music teacher used to say). When you breathe deeply, it engages your muscles differently and relieves that side stitch feeling. It’s a miracle cure. Don’t stop, breathe deeply through it.

This isn’t just for runners though. Breathing through it is also one of the most important personal and professional tools I use to help myself through any difficulty, frustration, confusion, or hardship. Taking a moment for a deep breath or focusing on your breathing instead of negativity around you helps to clear and focus the mind and actually makes your interactions or experiences better than just acting in the moment.

I also experience this lovely thing called stress and anxiety. Anybody else? Everybody else? Awesome.

I can’t help when my anxiety happens, but I have learned over time my triggers and how to overcome them when I can. I’ve learned to combat my anxiety with THE BEST technique, which I learned from our incredible military personnel but is also taught by yogis and counselors. It’s called box breathing or tactical breathing, and the military use it when sh** gets real. If it works for them in their experiences, it can help me tackle anything.

Mark Divine, U.S. Navy SEAL and founder of SEALFIT describes:

“To begin the practice, expel all of the air from your chest. Keep your lungs empty for a four-count hold. Then, perform your inhalation through the nose for four counts. Hold the air in your lungs for a four-count hold. When you hold your breath, do not clamp down and create back pressure. Rather, maintain an expansive, open feeling even though you are not inhaling. When ready, release the hold and exhale smoothly through your nose for four counts. This is one circuit of the box-breathing practice.”

Box breathing has changed so much of how I experience life. My partner tells me to box breathe when I’m feeling anxious. When I’m struggling with something at work, I refocus my energy with box breathing. And when I’m exhausted exercising, a round of box breathing helps me push through. Try it out and remember to breathe through it.

Thank you to all our military for their service and for the sacrifice that led to this technique.



Isabelle Jeffries currently works as the Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Colorado School of Mines. She is a lifelong learner and optimist who loves running and being in the mountains. Isabelle’s bachelor’s degree is in Biology and Communication (Millikin University) and master’s degree is in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (Ball State University). Though she works in fraternity/sorority life now, Isabelle has a background in residence life and a passion for student conduct and risk management.


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