Monday, September 20, 2021

4-7-8 Breathing: A Simple Deep Breathing Technique

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If you need a quick and easy breathing exercise, then try 4-7-8 breathing! It's a simple technique that you can do anywhere and anytime to reduce stress and anxiety.

Every night before bed, my husband walks my boys through taking a few deep breaths to help settle them for sleep. He'll flip the light switch off and ask, "Ready to do our breathing?" 

I'm not entirely sure when or how this routine of slow deep breathing before bedtime began (nice alliteration or what?!), but I love it and the kids find it tremendously helpful. It's such a great way to help the kids slow down and ease into sleep. 

And trust me, there are nights where the kids are practically bouncing off the walls and they need a bit of guidance slowing down for the night. A bit of slow breathing often does the trick.

That's where this 4-7-8 breathing comes in. Deep and slow breathing techniques such as this one are especially great for promoting better sleep. Or at least, they help my boys get ready for sleep, which really is often half the battle, right?

So if you're looking to add a new breathing technique to your arsenal, give this one a try.

How to do 4 7 8 breathing

What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?

The 4 7 8 breathing method is a simple exercise for working on deep breathing that was created by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is also known as relaxing breath. And, honestly, once you try it a few times, you'll quickly realize why it's often referred to as that.

The numbers in its name are the key to this relaxed deep breathing exercise. They'll basically be your guide through the full 4 7 8 breathing method. 

Those numbers just also happen to make deep breathing practice more appealing to our kids with hypernumeracy. As you might already know, it's all about using their interest in numbers with these kids!

How to Do the 4 7 8 Breathing Exercise

First, you'll want to find a comfortable place to sit and practice your breathing. You'll also want to exhale completely before going through the steps of this breathing exercise. Here's how it works:

  • Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale through the mouth audibly and forcefully for 8 seconds (making a whoosh sounds helps!)

Simply repeat the steps again for a total of 4 breath cycles.

4 7 8 breathing technique instructions

Too Hard? Use These Tips When You Practice Breathing

At first, you might find it challenging to hold your breath for 7 seconds or exhale for 8. However, with a bit of regular practice, it will get easier to do and you can eventually work your way up to the 4-7-8 counts. In the meantime, you could try:

  • Doing each step for as long as you feel comfortable
  • Speeding it up (i.e., count faster or half each step), but still using the same ratio of 4-7-8 
  • Using a video or visual aid to guide you through this breathing exercise. You could try this one or this one. Bonus hint: increase the playback speed if the pace is too hard for you to keep up with.

Every new breathing technique that you learn will take a little bit of practice. But, before you know it, you'll be able to do 4-7-8 breathing like a champ!

Other Deep Breathing Exercises & Resources You'll Love

Free Printable Social Story to Teach Deep Breathing 

Fall Leaf Deep Breathing Exercise

Calm Down Breathing Technique Cards

All about the 4 7 8 breathing technique and how to do it