Updated: Aug 28
In past Boundless blogs we've discussed the importance of incorporating mindfulness into your day to day activities. What we haven't delved too far into yet are the actual mindfulness techniques that can help us achieve this state of calm and balance. Today we're introducing you to a simple and time-efficient practice known as 4-7-8 breathing.
Try it out with us!
How to Practice 4-7-8 Breathing to Manage Anxiety & Stress:
First, find a comfortable and quiet space to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to settle into the moment. Begin by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four. On the fourth count, hold your breath for a count of seven. Finally, exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat this cycle for 3-4 times to start and gradually increase as you become more comfortable.
The Science of 4-7-8 Breathing to Manage Anxiety & Stress:
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is rooted in the ancient yogic practice called pranayama, or the practice of breath regulation. It's designed to engage your body's relaxation response by slowing down your heart rate, calming your nervous system, and promoting a sense of emotional equilibrium. The technique's numerical sequence of breath holds a deeper significance:
4 Inhale Counts: Inhaling slowly through your nose for a count of four fills your lungs with oxygen. This deep inhalation helps improve oxygen exchange and increases oxygenated blood flow to your organs and brain.
7 Hold Counts: Holding your breath for seven counts after inhaling allows your body to absorb the oxygen and triggers a sense of mindfulness and presence. This pause fosters a moment of mental stillness.
8 Exhale Counts: Exhaling for a count of eight through your mouth releases carbon dioxide and promotes relaxation by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. It's during this phase that tension and stress can be released.
Benefits of 4-7-8 Breathing to Manage Anxiety & Stress:
1. Stress Reduction:
By activating the relaxation response, the 4-7-8 technique helps lower cortisol levels and reduces the impact of stress on your body and mind.
2. Anxiety Management:
Practicing this technique regularly can mitigate the effects of anxiety and panic by calming your nervous system.
3. Improved Sleep:
Incorporating 4-7-8 breathing before bedtime can quiet racing thoughts and create an ideal state for falling asleep more easily.
4. Enhanced Focus:
This technique improves mindfulness and mental clarity, allowing you to tackle challenges with a composed mindset.
5. Blood Pressure Regulation:
The slowed heart rate and reduced stress response contribute to better blood pressure control.
Incorporating 4-7-8 Breathing Into Your Every Day Life to Overcome Anxiety & Stress:
Research indicates that adding a new practice or behavior to a pre-existing habit is an effective way to form a new habit because of a psychological phenomenon known as "habit stacking." Habit stacking leverages the power of existing routines to make the adoption of new habits easier and more likely to succeed. If you are serious about incorporating breath work into your daily life, we recommend that you start adding 4-7-8 breathing into your already established daily routine. Consider incorporating it into your morning ritual by beginning your day with a few rounds of 4-7-8 breathing to set a calm and focused tone.
Or perhaps you work it into your lunch or mid-day coffee break. We are big fans of using it as a pre-sleep ritual to signal your body that it's time to rest and relax into sleep mode.
Remember, this is a practice and requires focus and intentionality. It may seem difficult to access at first, but as you begin to harness the power of your breath, you'll discover the profound impact it has on your overall well-being. The journey to tranquility begins with a single breath!
Want to work with one of our mindfulness-based therapists? Let's get in touch! Begin your journey today with Boundless.
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