Want to sleep better and lower your stress levels? Count to 4-7-8! Yes, you’ve heard the numbers right. Finding effective ways to manage stress and anxiety is extremely crucial for one’s mental and emotional well-being these days, and the 4-7-8 breathing technique might just be the answer. This simple yet powerful breathing exercise is helping people around the world calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote relaxation, especially before bed.
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What is the 4-7-8 breathing technique?
Also known as "relaxing breath," the 4-7-8 breathing technique is a style of intentional breathwork that was popularised by Dr Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine practitioner, in 2015, although it has ancient roots in the yogic practice of pranayama. It involves a specific pattern of breath counting that helps activate the body's relaxation response.
How does it work?
Firstly, find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and relax your body.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose. Count silently to four as you inhale, allowing your abdomen to expand with each breath.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting silently to eight. As you exhale, imagine all the tension and stress leaving your body.
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Repeat this cycle three more times, for a total of four breaths.
The key to the effectiveness of this technique lies in its ability to stimulate the body's relaxation response. By extending the exhalation and holding the breath, the technique helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and reduces the "fight or flight" response associated with stress and anxiety.
What does it help with?
Regular practice of the 4-7-8 breathing technique can have several benefits for both the mind and the body:
Stress reduction: The deep breathing and elongated exhalation help calm the mind and release tension, leading to a reduction in stress levels.
Anxiety relief: It can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety by promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
Improved sleep: Practicing this technique before bedtime can help relax the body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep and improve sleep quality.
Increased focus and concentration: By bringing awareness to the breath and engaging in conscious breathing, the technique can enhance focus and mental clarity.
Blood pressure regulation: Deep breathing exercises have been shown to help lower blood pressure levels and promote cardiovascular health.
Who must avoid it?
It is important to note that while the 4-7-8 breathing technique is generally safe for most people, it may not be suitable for those with certain respiratory conditions. If you have any concerns or medical conditions, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating this technique into your routine.