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.

16 Comments

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

  2. 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 Wikipedia

  3. 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 Love

    • 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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:)

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