Mindful Living

Your Portable Stress Buster. No Special Equipment Needed.

Your portable stress buster. No special equipment needed. Vidya Sury

Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.

I often wonder who came up with that, because seriously, it sounds like something from one of those “things you never say to diabetics” lists.

And oh yeah, easier said than done, especially when you have to stay off all kinds of fattening things, if you are also reaching for the weight loss Holy Grail.

Well, whatever–truth is, stress must be kept at healthy levels, or it will get the better of you and make your life miserable. These days, each one of us experiences many stress triggers that hold us in their sneaky web.

But there’s an easy technique that you can carry with you everywhere you go. This technique involves something we do on a regular basis. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be alive.

It is called breathing.

(Gotcha!)

And yes, it is your portable stress buster. No special equipment needed.

But the breathing you need to do to relax, is called conscious breathing.

This can be various forms and each type can be used to take you to the mental state you want. Cool, eh?

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor“ Thích Nhất Hạnh

This particular conscious breathing exercise I am about to describe is called the 4-7-8 Breath or relaxing breath created by Dr Andrew Weil, M.D.

When you practice it, it takes you to a relaxed state quickly.

As I said, you need no special equipment, and you can do it wherever you like. At your desk, while you’re waiting somewhere, at a traffic light, for something you ordered, or when there’s a commercial break.

Also, it is easy.

I’d say any position is okay, but the ideal one is when you are sitting with your back straight. Come to think of it, that’s also good posture, so win-win.

How to do the 4-7-8 breath

  • Begin by placing the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth, where teeth meet gums. Keep it there throughout the exercise.
  • Now exhale through your mouth, with a “whoosh” sound.
  • Close your mouth and gently inhale through your nose. Count 1, 2, 3 4.
  • Hold your breath. Count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
  • Now exhale fully through your mouth, with a “whoosh” sound. Count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.

That completes one conscious breath cycle.
Repeat this whole cycle three times, for four breaths. If you’d like to visualize a happy place, that’s absolutely okay! In fact, I recommend it!

Remember:

  • Always inhale gently through the nose and exhale with a noisy “whoosh”
  • Keep the tip of your tongue in the same position as you started with.
  • You will notice that exhaling takes double the time of inhaling.
  • Total time spent doesn’t matter–just maintain the 4-7-8 count.
  • Should you find it tough to hold your breath, make it faster, but ensure that you stick to the 4-7-8 count.
  • Gradually, you will learn to go slower, inhale and exhale more deeply.

Go on. Try this right now, and let me know how it feels, in the comments. I’d love to know.

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Kaarina
    November 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    I use various types of breathing techniques with my athletes and clients. Great post. And BTW…just voted in all your categories 🙂 xo

  • Reply
    Rachna Parmar
    November 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Very interesting, Vidya. I have never heard of this technique till now. Mostly l do the inhale exhale of meditation where you feel your breath moving from your nose right till your stomach. Will surely try this out. Thanks for sharing.
    Rachna Parmar recently posted…Has The ‘Child’ in Childhood Disappeared?My Profile

  • Reply
    Parul Thakur
    November 22, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Very early in life, my uncle told me that if you can breathe normally in any tough situation, you will be able to sail through well. In yoga classes also, we are taught to observe and control the way we breathe. It’s truly a portable stress buster like you explained. Thanks for the reminder.
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Why I edit WikipediaMy Profile

  • Reply
    SHILPA GARG
    November 22, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Vipassana also talks about monitoring your breath to calm the turbulent mind. I liked the 4-7-8 breath you shared, Vidya. Will try it out. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    SHILPA GARG recently posted…5 Hobbies I LoveMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lisa Pomerantz
    November 23, 2016 at 12:09 am

    I love this, and may do it often. Is there a prescribed amount of breathing to do? I’m smiling V!

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      November 23, 2016 at 12:19 am

      You had me smiling, too, Lisa! I know you have a fabulous sense of humor, so I can safely say, yes, you can breathe as much as you want. Hehehe. I’ve found that when I practice this a few times a day, I generally get into the habit of staying calm. And so, I don’t get stressed as often as I otherwise might. Am I making sense? Hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Your Portable Stress Buster. No Special Equipment Needed.My Profile

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    November 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Hey, I am definitely going to try it out.
    I practice mindful breathing during my Yoga sessions, but this is something I can try anytime, anywhere, esp when in a stressful situation, right?
    Thank you, Vidya!

  • Reply
    Rajagopal
    November 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks, Vidya, for the proposed breathing exercise which I shall try out and feedback.

  • Reply
    Sampada
    November 24, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Wow! Didnt realize stressed was dessert spelled backwards..what an irony … i have heard of this 4-7-8 breathing technique..even tried couple of times when trying to fall asleep..and sleep i did:)

  • Reply
    Amrita Basu (Misra)
    November 24, 2016 at 10:04 am

    This is a great breathing exercise.I actually do this to fall asleep quicker.
    The longer we can do this better it is for relaxation.
    Amrita Basu (Misra) recently posted…Thanksgiving &Thankful Thursdays (4)My Profile

  • Reply
    Asha
    November 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Very interesting method ! The exhaling through the mouth with the tongue in that position gets some getting used to .
    Asha recently posted…A day in the TharMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      November 24, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Don’t laugh, Asha, but my Mom used to tease me, saying it helps me hold my tongue, breathe and calm down in stressful situations before saying something I might regret later. 🙂 Can you imagine?
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Practising Gratitude #GratitudeCircleMy Profile

  • Reply
    Birgit
    November 28, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    I do deep breathing exercises which do help. I just tried this one and lost my breath a bit in hold…yikes! To be mindful of ones breath keeps our brains from drifting to stressful thoughts.
    Birgit recently posted…Thursday Movie Picks-Westerns-I picked this theme!!My Profile

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