Mindful Breathing: The 4, 7, 8 Approach

One of the easiest activities to relieve anxiety is to do some deep breathing exercises. It can be done on-the-go and therefore perfect to incorporate into our lives. It is also completely FREE!

The breath is always there, but often goes unnoticed. Yet it is incredibly grounding to focus on the breath, and allow thoughts, feelings and stresses to pass by. Some things in life are fixed, and some are transient. Our breath is always with us and is a reliable friend during times of need.

I have used breathing exercises to help alleviate panic attacks and feelings of being overwhelmed in a variety of situations: commuting or travelling on busy public transport; meetings at work or visiting the docs; family events; standing in large crowds at concerts; aeroplane journeys; even house-hunting. During some bad spells of depression, it was something more manageable than reading a self-help book or going for a run (which, let’s face it, is not going to happen if making it to the bathroom for a shower is hard enough).

The easiest breathing exercise abides by the 4-7-8 rule. So:

  1. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for 4 breaths.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  3. Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 8, making a whooshing sound as you expel all the negative thoughts and tension.
  4. This is one breathe. Continue this practice for three or four repetitions.

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