Breathing Technique for Anxiety

4-7-8 Breathing

Are you looking for tools to help manage anxiety? There are many breathing techniques that can be useful in affecting our emotional state of being. 4-7-8 breathing is a good one to know! How does it work?

1) Take a big breath in through your nose for four seconds.

2) Hold the breath in your lungs for seven seconds.

3) Breathe out of your mouth for eight seconds, letting the air make a whooshing sound as it passes your lips. 

4) Repeat 3-8 times as needed.

Give it a try and see how you feel. Why is this breathing technique effective? In our bodies, the Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for controlling unconscious body functions, like breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. When we consciously control our breathing, we can affect the Autonomic Nervous System in our favor. 

When we practice a breathing pattern where the exhale is longer than the inhale (like the 4-7-8 technique), we can activate the "calm down" part of our nervous systems (the parasympathetic nervous system, used for "rest and digest"). Using a longer out-breath can slow down the heart rate, and tell your brain that it's okay to relax. 

This technique is free, easy to learn, and convenient to practice in private or in public! Give it a try next time you feel like you need to slow down and relax.

Stacy Sheridan