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A guide to the 4-7-8 breathing technique

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What is 4-7-8 breathing?

Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like! The 4-7-8 breathing technique is one in which you will inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.I’ll be honest with you here and tell you that there isn’t any real scientific evidence that this technique works, however, there is much anecdotal evidence from people who have found it useful. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you find it beneficial for yourselves.

What do I use it for?

The benefits of this breathing technique are claimed to be reduced stress, reduced anxiety and a better nights sleep. Some online sources claim that this technique can get you to sleep in under a minute. To me this seems greatly over exaggerated but I will say I do personally find controlling and focusing on my breathing helpful for reducing anxiety levels.

How exactly do I practice this technique?

Okay, we’ll run through this step by step. There are a few different suggestions on how to do this. This is just the way I find it most helpful personally but adapt it to whatever way works for you.

  • Find a comfortable position. This can be seated with you back nice and straight, laying on your bed with your arms placed gently to your side, on the floor on a yoga mat. It’s most personal preference here.
  • Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  • Hold this breath to the count of 7.
  • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds completely emptying your lungs. Some say make a whooshing sound, I don’t know that this makes any real difference but perhaps for some!
  • Rinse and repeat for as long as is necessary for you.

Controlled breathing, much like mindfulness, is something that will need regular practice to master.

A final note

Not everybody will find this helpful and that is okay. Mental health is a really broad range of issues, and a broad range of management techniques. What works for you, or anybody else, is down to you as an individual. I’ll leave it for each of you to decide the merits of controlled breathing for yourselves. I’m glad if you’ve found this in any way helpful. Until next time, keep fighting, keep talking, keep reaching out.

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