4-7-8 breathing. A calming breathing technique to help with anxiety.
Breathing. It’s something that we all do yet we pay little attention to. If we could learn to use this natural beautiful gift that we have been given then we can learn to calm our nervous systems. It’s a technique that I teach my clients to help them to stay grounded in the present moment. It can help them if they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. They can use it anywhere and it’s free! What greater gift do we have than that?
This simple technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil goes like this:
Make sure you are sitting comfortably or lay on a warm surface. If sitting relax your face, shoulders, arms and feel your feel firmly on the ground. Begin by noticing the breath moving in and out of your body. It doesn’t matter how this feels. The breaths can be long or short or uneven. This is not important. Simply begin to notice.
Next, we begin the technique.
· Breath in to the count of 4.
· Hold for 7.
· Exhale for 8 as if you are blowing through a straw.
After four rounds of this breathe normally and notice how you feel. You might notice that you feel calmer.
Why does this work?
Our autonomic nervous system has two branches. Our sympathetic nervous system is involved in our stress response; or what as known as our fight or flight response. Our parasympathetic nervous system is involved in our rest and digest response. Breathing in a slow and controlled manner send the message to our parasympathetic nervous system that we are safe.
The benefits to breathing in this way for a few minutes each day include decreased anxiety, improved sleep, feeling less pain and lower blood pressure. Not bad for a free tool that we can use anywhere at anytime!