4-7-8 Breathing

Clouds in a blue sky

By Dr. Peter Abaci

Guided breathing exercises can be one of your best tools for decreasing stress and relieving pain flare-ups. Slow, rhythmic breathing patterns stimulate a relaxation response within a stress out or hyper-aroused nervous system. Learning a few basic breathing techniques is fairly simple and easy to do. Plus, doing so gives you more independence and control over your pain. One breathing exercise that is super easy to do is known as “4-7-8 breathing.

Here is how to do it:

  • Sit or lie down, which ever you choose, as long as your back is straight.
  • Gently place the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper front teeth, at the point where the teeth meet the gums. Hold your tongue there as you open your mouth, holding it open as you exhale through your mouth. Hear the “whooshing” should your breath makes as it leaves your mouth.
  • Now close your mouth and inhale through your nose, quietly, as your count to 4.
  • As soon as you’ve reach four stop inhaling and hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth, emptying your lungs for a count of 8.
  • Again, inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale through your mouth for 8. “Listen” carefully to each number as you silently count, and feel your breath coming in and out of your nose, throat and lungs. Just a few rounds of this is all it takes. Start with a few, building up to no more than 8 at a time over the course of a month or two.

Try 4-7-8 breathing the next time you feel stressed or when your pain feels extra intense. This can be a very quick way to add a little wellness and relaxation to your day when you need it most. All you need to do is count!