What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Trick?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a relaxation exercise that involves taking a deep breath for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and then exhaling slowly for 8 seconds. This breathing exercise is said to help calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
To perform the 4-7-8 breathing technique, follow these steps:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 8, making a whooshing sound as you breathe out.
- Repeat the cycle for 3-4 times or as long as you need to feel relaxed.
It is recommended to practice this breathing exercise daily, especially when feeling stressed or anxious. The 4-7-8 breathing technique can be used as a relaxation tool to help you fall asleep faster, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being.
Why Does the 4-7-8 Breathing Trick Work?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” response. When we feel stressed or anxious, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and muscle tension.
By taking deep breaths and holding the breath for a few seconds before exhaling, we increase the amount of oxygen in our body and slow down our heart rate, which can help counteract the effects of the stress response. Additionally, exhaling slowly through the mouth can help release tension in the muscles and promote relaxation.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique also helps to focus the mind on the breath, providing a sense of mindfulness and present-moment awareness that can help reduce feelings of anxiety or overwhelm. Regular practice of this breathing exercise can train the body and mind to respond more calmly and efficiently to stress, promoting greater overall well-being.
How Many Times a Day Can You Do It?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is generally safe and can be practiced multiple times a day as needed. It’s a portable relaxation technique that can be performed virtually anywhere, anytime. However, it’s recommended to start with practicing the technique two times a day, for a couple of minutes each time, and then gradually increasing the duration or frequency of the practice as per individual preference.
It’s important to note that if you experience any discomfort or dizziness while practicing the technique, you should stop immediately and return to your normal breathing. In some cases, the 4-7-8 breathing technique may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory problems, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new relaxation technique.
How Did it Become Popular?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique has been popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, who has been teaching it for many years as a relaxation technique. While there is no direct evidence suggesting that Navy SEALs use this specific technique, it’s possible that they may use variations of this technique or other breathing techniques as part of their training.
Breathing exercises, in general, are a common practice in many military and law enforcement training programs. Controlled breathing techniques can help improve focus, reduce stress, and regulate heart rate, which can be beneficial in high-pressure situations. Navy SEALs and other special operations forces are trained to remain calm and focused under intense pressure, and breathing exercises can be a useful tool for achieving this state of mind.
However, it’s important to note that the specific techniques and methods used by Navy SEALs and other special operations forces are typically classified and not publicly available.
How Else is it Used?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is widely practiced as a relaxation exercise by individuals and groups around the world. It has been recommended by healthcare professionals, yoga and meditation teachers, and personal development experts as a tool for managing stress, anxiety, and promoting relaxation.
The technique has gained popularity as a simple and accessible tool for reducing stress and improving overall well-being, and it is used by many people in a variety of settings, including in workplaces, schools, and hospitals.
In addition to the 4-7-8 breathing technique, there are many other breathing exercises and techniques that are used by various groups and individuals, such as yogic breathing (pranayama), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and diaphragmatic breathing, among others. Each of these techniques may have unique benefits and may be more or less suitable for different individuals and situations.
Other Breathing Exercises
There are many different types of breathing exercises and techniques that can be used for relaxation, stress reduction, and improving overall health and well-being. Here are a few examples:
- Diaphragmatic breathing: Also known as belly breathing or deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths that engage the diaphragm muscle, which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress.
- Alternate nostril breathing: This technique involves inhaling and exhaling through one nostril while closing off the other nostril with your finger, and then switching sides, which can help balance the body and calm the mind.
- Box breathing: This technique involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding the breath again for a count of four, which can help regulate the breath and calm the mind.
- Kapalabhati breathing: This yogic breathing technique involves forceful exhalations through the nose, which can help increase energy levels, clear the mind, and promote detoxification.
- Breath counting: This technique involves counting the breaths, typically up to 10, and then starting over again, which can help focus the mind and promote relaxation.
These are just a few examples of the many different breathing exercises and techniques that can be used to improve health and well-being. The key is to find the technique that works best for you and to practice it regularly for maximum benefits.