Instantly Reduce Anxiety

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I have had anxiety, to varying degrees, since childhood. It was especially significant during my early teens and again in my early 20’s. Panic attacks were common. That is, until I began to learn about anxiety, why I had it, and what I could do about it. This simple breathing technique is one of the things I learned how to do to reduce anxiety in the moment.

I use this technique often, and the best part? You can do it anywhere, at anytime, and no one will know…it’s like a secret weapon! I’ve done this breathing in traffic, standing in line, at the dentist, during meetings, before a presentation, when I’m falling asleep, while washing dishes, in the company of anxiety-producing people, when I’m feeling frustrated, angry, overwhelmed…you get the idea. And…the more often you practice it the more easily your body and mind will calm.

This technique is called the 4-7-8 Breath and it comes from Dr. Andrew Weil. He’s even got a demonstration video on his website. The instructions go like this…

  1. Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge just behind your upper front teeth (hold it there the whole time).

  2. Breathe in (quietly) through your nose for a count of 4 (breathe into your belly so it expands).

  3. Hold for a count of 7.

  4. Exhale out your mouth (audibly) for a count of 8 (contract your belly to push all the air out). That’s one breath.

  5. Repeat 3x more for a total of 4 complete breaths. Don’t do more than 4 breaths at a time, but you can repeat throughout the day as often as you’d like.

Once the 4-7-8 counting (that ratio is totally important, so stick to it!) becomes familiar and automatic, you might like to throw in a mantra. I usually repeat the words “inhale calm, exhale tension” to help my mind latch onto something and to help increase the calming benefits.

Be well!

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