Wellness Post, 4/14/20, Breathing Technique

Good morning everyone,

First, before reading the rest of this Wellness Post, PLEASE take a couple of minutes to complete a survey about the DA Upper School student experience with anxiety and how teachers can make changes to help – brought to you by Claire Ridley: DA Upper School Anxiety Survey

I hope you all enjoyed your long weekend. Our family camped out in the backyard for Jack’s 4th birthday and the Easter bunny left a trail of eggs from outside the tent door into the living room. 😊

Before we started distance learning and Covid-19 was in our lives, we all experienced anxiety at various times. For some of us, anxiety was simply an anticipation or nervousness about something that motivated us to come up with a plan or work harder towards a goal. For many of us, anxiety was a feeling of worry that interrupted our ability to focus or even sleep. I noticed that my 9 year old, Clara, has had more trouble falling asleep since we’ve been home and physically distancing. She also has verbalized more worries than usual. I think this is probably pretty typical of most Americans right now during this health crisis, so I thought I’d share a technique that helps with both anxiety and trouble sleeping – called the 4-7-8 technique.

To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:

  • empty the lungs of air
  • breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
  • repeat the cycle up to 4 times

You can use this when you become aware that you are anxious or having trouble sleeping. You can also just practice the technique twice a day and potentially start experiencing less anxiety in general. Avoid doing more than four breath cycles in a row until you have more practice with the technique.

You may feel lightheaded after doing this for the first few times. Therefore, try this technique when sitting or lying down to prevent dizziness or falls.

Also, if you can’t hold your breath for that long, just try a shorter pattern, but keeping the ratio, such as:

  • breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds
  • exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds

There are many other simple breathing techniques that help decrease anxiety and increase relaxation. I’ll share a few more in future Wellness posts, but for now, enjoy the benefits of this one.

Be well,

Mrs. Danser