What Is 4-7-8 Breathing Technique & Why It’s Important For Mental Health?


If you are someone who faces anxiety on a regular basis and gets overwhelmed very quickly, you already have an idea about the importance of breathing exercises. It starts from slowing down yourself from everything that is happening around you, taking deep breaths and cutting down the stress. While there are a number of breathing techniques, 4-7-8 breathing technique is another powerful one to relax yourself.

4-7-8 breathing technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and it comes from a backdrop of ancient yogic technique called Pranayama. The practitioners are capable of holding a good control over their breathing and get rid of stress. In fact, this technique allows one to fall asleep in insomniac situations in a very short period of time, manage unnecessary cravings and control anger response.

How Does 4-7-8 Breathing Technique Work?

Designed to relax your body and mind completely, it allows your body to replenish the levels of oxygen when holding is required. Our lungs get a boost of oxygen supply and balance the level of response easily. As you know that anxiety can cause sleeplessness and tension all over the night, practicing 4-7-8 breathing exercises can bring your mind back into the present and resist from thinking about the future or past. 

As it is claimed that 4-7-8 breathing technique can instantly calm the running heart and unfocused mind, Dr. Weil himself has termed it as ‘natural tranquilizer for the nervous system’. Other potential benefits it possess include:

  • Less fatigue in the body and mind
  • Cuts down anxiety
  • Those children and adults having asthma can have relaxation
  • Better stress management techniques
  • Reduction in hypertension
  • Control in aggressive behavior
  • Improves migraine symptoms

Interestingly, studies have shown that if someone practices this breathing technique for about 6-8 weeks then they can find themselves in a better state in terms of stress control, improved cognitive function and anxiety.

How To Practice 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?

To start with it, find yourself a comfortable place and position for yourself. Hare, sit or lie down as per your convenience. Although, if you are practicing this technique to sleep, it’s best to lie down peacefully on your bed. 

Place your tongue flat in your mouth where the tip touches the front teeth. Remember, this position will stay fixed throughout the process and avoid moving it in any direction. Now follow the steps:

Step 1: Move your lips apart and make a whooshing sound encircling your lips through your mouth. 

Step 2: Now close your lips, inhale silently by your nose and count 1 to 4.

Step 3: Now hold your breath for about 7 seconds.

Step 4: Exhale out for about 8 seconds by making whooshing sound once again. 

Now practice this session for 4 full breaths while counting step 1 to step 4 as one full cycle. A beginner may find it difficult to hold his breath for 7 seconds and complete the cycle but you can gradually increase your cycles in a few weeks. Remember, you don’t need to practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques if you are in a hurry or have to finish pending work later. It is necessary to be mentally prepared for relaxation and peace. 

According to Dr. Weil, he himself practiced this technique twice a day to notice the benefits and suggested that anyone practicing this technique shall stop after repeating 4 times in the beginning. He says that one can repeat the cycle more than 4 times once they are acquainted with it.

In fact, a beginner can modify this technique by shortening the pattern. For example:

  • Deep breathe in for about 2 seconds
  • Hold the breath for 3.5 seconds
  • Exhale it out in about 4 seconds

According to researchers, the longer and frequently this technique is practiced, the more effective it becomes. Some people also practice this breathing technique with a combination of:

  • Guided imagery session
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Repetitive behavior
  • Yoga, tai chi or qigong
  • Mindfulness meditation

Are There Any Applications Which Support 4-7-8 Breathing Techniques?

We often want to calm down quickly and get support from a third party, be it human being or application, to support the good deeds. In this case, there are a number of applications which go hand in hand with us to make process easier and comfortable including:

A. Breathe- 1 minutes mindfulness meditation: While allowing you to set up reminders in between, this application has 4-7-8 breathing techniques for good practice.

B. 3 Minute mindfulness: Get prompts to schedule a good 3 minutes breathing break within a day. Whether you want to calm your body or energize yourself, this application is a great deal all over.

C. Box breathe: In Box Breathing technique Get visual prompts to regulate your breathing where a box appears on the screen and opens up with specific guidelines about when to breathe in, stop there and exhale it out. 

D. Insight timer: This application has a range of meditations, from simple chimes to guided meditations in order to help your breath control and feel centered in the moment.


We hope that you have understood about 4-7-8 breathing techniques and would like to practice it everyday in your life for best conditions. Did you try the technique and did it help you? Share your views and experiences in the comments section below.  

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She is a Writer and a Mental Health Enthusiast. She has written for Entrepreneur Magazine, The Hindu, Youth Ki Awaaz, DesiBlitz, FranchiseIndia.com. She is also Practicing Yoga and Breathing Exercise and Believe in karma.
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