A Drug of Choice- and it’s Free!
Part of our Restorative Action Series involves, you guessed it…BREATHING. You need to live, (yes captain obvious-) but it has so much more of an impact on your entire system than you realize. There are effects certain breathing can have on you to get you in the chill zone!
If you are Sleepless or Stressed or like lots of Humans- BOTH
Now this drug of choice is the 4-7-8 Breathing technique, now before you roll your eyes and walk away, scroll down and keep reading and find out how to reach your bliss! You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. The studied combination of numbers has a chemical-like effect on our brains and will slow your heart rate, calm and relax you, and even help you to get to sleep.
How it Works
When you feel stressed or anxious, adrenaline courses through your veins, your heart beats at a rapid rate, and your breathing becomes quick and shallow. So before I get into the specifics of how the 4-7-8 breathing trick works, I want to explain what it feels like when you try it.
The effect of the breathing technique has an impact not dissimilar to a sedative drug because to hold your breath for seven seconds and then to exhale for eight—when your breath is so shallow and short—your body is forced to slow your heart rate. It has no choice. Holding your breath, and then slowly, deliberately exhaling for eight seconds, causes a chain reaction. It feels like going from a mad-dash sprint to a finish line to a slow, leisurely, calming stroll through the park.
When you first start, you’ll be desperate just to take in another breath, or you’ll want to speed up your counting, but if you stick to the numbers (or at least try to) and don’t take any breaks (in other words, consecutively repeat the 4-7-8 without resuming regular breathing), you can literally feel your heart rate slow down, your mind gets quieter, and your whole body physically relax. It washes over you like a calming, relaxing drug.
Now to the more technical details: People who are stressed or anxious are chronically under-breathing. Stressed people breathe shortly and shallowly, and often even unconsciously hold their breath. By extending the inhale to a count of four, you are forcing yourself to take in more oxygen, allowing the oxygen to affect your bloodstream by holding your breath for seven seconds, and then emitting carbon dioxide from your lungs by exhaling steadily for eight seconds.
The technique will effectively slow your heart rate and increase oxygen in your bloodstream, and may even make you feel slightly lightheaded which contributes to the mild sedative-like effect. It will instantly relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system because you are controlling the breath versus continuing to breathe short, shallow gasps of air.
How it Can Work For You
Not only is it free, but it also works for many different instances:
Use it to fall asleep in a pinch; you can practice it if you wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself thinking about something you have to do the next day.
Use it to fall to back asleep.
If you are nervous before an event (like a wedding, or giving a speech) this a handy tonic to calm those nerves.
If you are angry about something and want to calm down.
Nervous flying in a plane? Use it before flights and during if the plane encounters turbulence.
BUT… you have to do it!