Breath Pattern for Stress Relief and Sleep

During this often extra busy season, I’d like to share a breathing technique that helps to calm and relax.

I learned about this method about 12 years ago when I attended a talk by Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. in San Mateo. It’s definitely a practice worth adding to your self-care toolbox.

The technique is known as “4-7-8,” developed by Dr. Andrew Weil:

* Inhale to the count of 4 through your nose.
* Hold your breath to the count of 7.
* Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8.

Repeat this sequence several times.

Benefits include:

  • Stress Reduction: This technique can instill a sense of calm by focusing on your breath and activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce stress.
  • Improved Sleep: The breathing pattern can quiet the mind and relax the muscles, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Better Emotional Regulation: Regular practice can potentially make you less reactive to stressful situations.
  • Increased Concentration: Requiring you to count and focus on your breathing enhances concentration and mental clarity.
  • Lowered Blood Pressure: Deep, slow breathing has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
  • Enhanced Oxygenation: This increases oxygen flow to your bloodstream, which can improve energy levels and overall bodily function.
  • Relaxation of the Nervous System: The prolonged exhale particularly helps in activating the body’s relaxation response.

Please consult with a healthcare provider before starting this practice if you have respiratory conditions or other health concerns.

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