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The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

When you’re feeling anxious, your body responds in physical ways, like an increased heart rate.

When you’re feeling anxious, your body responds in physical ways, like an increased heart heart. Your heart rate is connected to your breathing. You can lower your heart rate, and also show your body that you aren’t in danger, by taking slow, deep breaths. This process can help reduce your anxiety, and help you feel better overall. In this exercise, taking deep inhales and then ensuring you exhale for longer than you inhaled will relax your body and slow your heart rate.

Lie down or find a comfy spot to sit. First, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Try to keep your tongue in this position for the whole exercise.

Within the cycle of one breath:

  1. Part your lips and exhale all of your breath with a whooshing sound through your mouth.
  2. Now close your lips and inhale through your nose as you mentally count to four.
  3. Next, hold your breath for seven seconds.
  4. Finally, exhale from your mouth for eight seconds with another big whoosh.

Repeat this four times to feel the calming effects of this exercise. Once you’ve become familiar, you can repeat it up to eight times. 

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This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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