4-7-8 Seconds for a Healthier You
by Sandra Acevedo, MPH, SOS Health Educator
It’s February, the ball is rolling, the kids are back in school and we are once again taking care of family, relatives, friends and – if we find time – ourselves. It can all get overwhelming, so today I would like to invite you to reserve just three minutes out of your day for you. In these three minutes, you will increase the length of your life, improve your blood pressure, reduce the tensions in your body, increase your peace of mind, and improve your overall health. All of these benefits come from a simple exercise that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.
It is called the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise.
Start by sitting with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be breathing out (exhaling) through your mouth, and around your tongue.
- Breathe out completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and breathe in (inhale) quietly through your nose to a mental count of four seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven seconds.
- Breathe out completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight seconds.
- This is one breath. Now breathe in again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
This breathing exercise is a natural way to help you relax. It helps when you are having a hard time going to sleep, when you wake up in the middle of the night or when you are nervous about an upcoming event. It is recommended that you practice it at least twice a day, but the truth is you can never do it too much. Remember that secret formula 4-7-8, and breathe your way to better health.