Stress and anxiety can have a wide range of effects on both your body and your mind. One of the most outwardly visible signs of stress is shallow breathing, which can cause a build-up of toxins in your body, which will lead to tiredness and even reduced brain function. Fortunately, specialized exercises such as the 4-7-8 breathing technique can help.
Preparation and Technique
Sit up straight in a comfortable position. Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of your gums, just under your front teeth. Expand your diaphragm and slowly inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for another count of seven. Open your mouth slightly and exhale for eight counts, drawing your diaphragm in. Repeat this cycle four times in total.
Put It Into Practice
Alternative health expert Dr. Andrew Weil recommends using this technique at least twice a day. However, you may try this or similar deep breathing methods throughout the day whenever you need to calm down. The idea behind these scheduled exercise sessions, however, is to retrain your entire way of breathing. With enough practice, you should begin breathing more deeply without having to give it any extra thought.
The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing
There are measurable benefits of slow, diaphragmatic breathing. Regardless of the exact rhythm used, these techniques slow your heart rate, increase oxygen circulation, improve mental clarity and eliminate toxins from your system. Keep in mind that the 4-7-8 technique may be difficult for beginners and, thus, other patterns, such as 3-3-6, may be easier at first.
Not all issues with rapid breathing can be resolved by measured breathing, though. For instance, a bout of rapid breathing could be a sign of infection, internal bleeding or cardiovascular disorders and have nothing to do with mental stress. Because of the potential link to serious health conditions, if you frequently experience rapid breathing, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause.