How 4-7-8 Breathing Can Help You Reduce Anger and Anxiety
4-7-8 breathing is a style of intentional breathwork that can calm your mind and body. It is based on the yogic practice of pranayama, which means breath regulation. It involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. By doing this repeatedly, you can achieve various benefits, such as:
- Lowering your stress and anxiety levels
- Reducing your anger and frustration
- Improving your mood and emotional balance
- Enhancing your focus and creativity
- Boosting your immune system and physical health
- Promoting better sleep quality and duration
How does 4-7-8 breathing work?
4-7-8 breathing works by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing your body and mind. When you are stressed, angry, or anxious, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in and triggers the “fight-or-flight” response. This causes various physical and mental changes, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle tension, and negative thoughts.
By practicing 4-7-8 breathing, you can counteract these effects and bring your body and mind back to a state of balance and calm. You can also train yourself to respond more positively and constructively to stressful situations, rather than reacting impulsively or aggressively.
How to do 4-7-8 breathing?
You can practice 4-7-8 breathing anytime and anywhere you need to calm down and relax. Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Find a comfortable and quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit on a chair or cushion with your back straight but relaxed. You can close your eyes or keep them slightly open.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle for four times, or until you feel calm and relaxed.
You can practice this technique once or twice a day, preferably in the morning and before bed. You can also use it whenever you feel angry or anxious in daily life, by taking a few mindful breaths before reacting.
Some tips to make the most of 4-7-8 breathing are:
- Don’t worry too much about the exact timing of each phase. The most important thing is to keep the ratio of 4:7:8.
- If you find it difficult to hold your breath for 7 seconds or exhale for 8 seconds, you can start with shorter durations, such as 2:3:4 or 3:5:6. As long as you keep the ratio, you will still get the benefits.
- Don’t force your breath or strain yourself. Breathe naturally and comfortably.
- Focus on your breath and let go of any distracting thoughts or sensations.
- Be patient and consistent with your practice. It may take some time to notice the effects, but they will come with regular practice.
What are some other benefits of 4-7-8 breathing?
Besides reducing anger and anxiety, 4-7-8 breathing can also help you with other aspects of your health and well-being, such as:
- Helping you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Some people claim that this technique can help them fall asleep in one minute. This is because it lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, relaxes your muscles, and clears your mind.
- Helping you cope with pain and discomfort. By focusing on your breath, you can distract yourself from the sensation of pain and reduce its intensity. You can also release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by your body.
- Helping you improve your digestion and metabolism. By stimulating your vagus nerve, which connects your brain to your gut, you can enhance your digestive function and prevent issues such as bloating, constipation, or acid reflux. You can also increase your oxygen intake and blood circulation, which can boost your energy levels and burn more calories.
- Helping you quit smoking or other bad habits. By calming your cravings and reducing your stress levels, you can increase your willpower and motivation to quit smoking or other addictive behaviors. You can also use this technique as a substitute for smoking when you feel the urge to light up.