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4-7-8 Breathing Technique: Alleviate Anxiety & Fall Asleep Faster!

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The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique is PERFECT for people trying to calm anxiety or fall asleep faster. | Hustle + Halcyon

Wassup, weens.

Yes, I have now shortened “wieners” to “weens.” Add this to your vocabulary.

Today, I wanted to share a quick little breathing technique that has worked WONDERS for me when it comes to calming anxiety & falling asleep faster.

I’ve talked candidly about my troubles with clinical anxiety in an article I wrote for The Haute Haus, so if that’s something you can relate to, definitely have a little read!

To summarize: clinical anxiety is practically impossible to control without medication, because it’s caused by a imbalance of hormones. Fucking great. I have previously taken anxiety medication, but I didn’t like what it did to my body & I hate the idea of being in need of medication, so I try to avoid it. I have incorporated certain ‘relaxing’ things into my daily life in an attempt to alleviate this on-edge feeling and avoid panic attacks ( bad, bad, bad shit ).

Simply put: this is my life in a single image. LOL– but really.

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Right now, I’m trying my best to balance taking 18 hours of college courses, run a small business ( yes, a blog is a business. Taxes, paperwork, constant research, WORK, etc. ), being a dog mom, managing/up-keeping an apartment, spending time with friends & family, staying healthy, attempting to stay sane, etc.

Basically, I wake up at 7 AM & feel like I’m drowning in a sea ( of my own creation ) until about 1 AM, sleep, and do it all again the next day.

I will say, I am lucky to have so many wonderful opportunities for growth & work in my life, but these opportunities require a certain time commitment. I love them, but they can be killer.

So, when it’s time to fall asleep at night ( sleep is SO IMPORTANT, esp in a highly-engaged lifestyle ), I’ve always run into difficulty calming myself down to fall asleep in a normal amount of time. Usually, I’m laying in bed restless for like, an hour or more.

Then, I start thinking about how much work I could’ve gotten done in that hour & the panic continues.

Enter: the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

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The 4-7-8 breathing technique has been a SUPER effective tool for me as of late. BTW: I’m not like walking around doing this in public or when I sleep at a friend’s place or something, because it’s kind of dramatic & looks fucking weird. I will admit I did do some 4-7-8 breathing in my car today, though.

WHAT TO DO:

(instructions taken from Dr. Weil, a master of integrated medicine, advocate for the 4-7-8 breathing technique, & overall genius!)

  1. Before you begin, exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth & inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds.
  5. This is one breath. Now inhale again & repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

WHY THIS WORKS:

“The technique is based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means ‘regulation of breath.’ The Harvard-trained doctor [Dr. Weil] behind it claims that 4-7-8 is such a powerful technique because it allows oxygen to better fill the lungs. ‘This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system,’ he says. This extra oxygen can have a relaxing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.” (source: Daily Mail)

Also, when we get anxious, we tend to breathe with short, shallow breaths. Focussing on taking deeper breaths increases the flow of oxygen into your body AND diverts your attention from your stress to the breathing exercise. So, its also a little bit of a distraction.

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Dr. Weil claims that the 4-7-8 breathing technique can be used to help you fall asleep faster, curb food cravings, & to alleviate moderate/mild anxiety.

Also, don’t be all stressed if it doesn’t help you with these things right away. This breathing technique takes focus & practice, which is not something that we usually associate with breathing…. Dr. Weil suggests that beginners start with a straight back ( either upright or laying down ) and place the tongue on the roof of the mouth right behind the front teeth ( so you’ll be exhaling ‘through’ your tongue, essentially ).

It’s a little weird/awk, but it works wonders so who even cares.

Some people claim that it helps them fall asleep in A MINUTE OR LESS. To get THIS kind of result, Dr. Weil prescribes practicing 4-7-8 breathing twice a day for about two months ( which is easy because you don’t need anything but your body & oxygen…. sooooo you can do this anywhere ).

I’m not claiming that I have been religiously practicing this technique twice a day for two months, but I do try to use it whenever I’m feeling anxious & when I’m going to sleep at night. It’s kind of freakish how effective it is when you get it down. The calming feeling it brings about is undeniable once you feel it. AKA: You’ll KNOW what I’m talking about when you do it right.

TBH, when I was first introduced to 4-7-8 breathing, it made me more stressed because I was so nervo that I was doing it wrong. I proceeded to get frustrated every time it didn’t work. LOL– stress-fucking-case.

So, slow the hell down, relax, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to breath perfectly (psycho), & you’ll figure it out! Don’t stress over learning your stress-relief technique.

Have any of you beebuses tried 4-7-8 breathing? What do y’all think?

I’m obsessed.

Tell me if it works for any of you!!

xx

OH, & PS: The HUSTLE + HALCYON iPhone App is NOW AVAILABLE in the App Store!! It’s a work-in-progress, but I’m SO excited to mess around with it! Go download it, wiener gals. 

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