WOW….talk about a stressful month! First we had the elections (no shortage of stress there), next we heard the reports of an increase in Covid cases and on top of all that, the holiday season starts next week…..yikes!
Let’s face it, these days life feels pretty stressful. And when you are feeling stressed or anxious, one of the first things that changes is your breath. Taking shallow breaths when you are anxious limits the amount of oxygen that circulates to your lower lungs which then sends a signal to your brain that you are stressed. And then you feel even more stressed!
However, taking a deep breath and allowing your lungs to fill completely can slow down your heart rate, stabilize your blood pressure and oxygenate and nourish your entire body. Deep breathing lets your brain know that all is well.
Learning how to breath correctly can take some experimenting but thankfully there is no shortage of techniques for you to try. Over the years I have tried many of them and I finally found one that works like a charm every single time! It’s called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Not only is it super simple, it can be done anywhere and literally takes just seconds to do.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique was conceived by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Initially, the technique was used to help people fall asleep but it has also become a useful tool to ease anxiety and stress.
To begin, sit with your back straight and allow your lungs to fill completely and then exhale completely. Keep the tip of your tongue resting lightly behind your front upper teeth the entire time you are doing the exercise.
On your next breath:
* Inhale through your nose to the count of 4.
* Hold your breath for a count of 7.
* Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. You want to make an audible “whoooosh” sound on the exhalation.
Repeat this sequence 4 times. For your viewing pleasure you can watch this quick video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the technique. 😉
If managing your stress feels like an overwhelming and somewhat impossible task, it doesn’t have to be. Give yourself permission to slow down and take a moment to notice your breath.
When you follow the ebb and flow of your breath, you can come back to a place of balance and actually transform your emotional state. All is takes is one simple breath.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Be calm.