Do you know that feeling when your breath is caught in your chest, and you just can’t take a deep breath? Your breathing is constricted, shallow and it feels awful?

It happens to me maybe once a week, and it’s a good wake-up call that I’m more stressed than I realize and need to chill out.

Well luckily I know how to fix it, and it only takes about 1 minute. I use a breathing exercise that I learned from Dr. Andrew Weil when he taught at my nutrition school.  He calls this “4-7-8 Breathing” and says it’s a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”

Here’s what you do:

Place the tip of your tongue so it’s touching the place where the back of your top teeth meet the roof of your mouth.

– Exhale completely, making a whooshing/ sighing sound (this is fun).
– Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for 4 counts.
– Hold your breath for 7 counts.
– Exhale through your mouth for 8 counts.
– Repeat the cycle 4 times.

And just like that, my breathing is free!

Dr. Weil recommends that you do this exercise twice a day. I usually do it during down-time when I’m waiting for the subway, or when I’m walking the dog. I definitely use it if I’m feeling stressed.

If you suffer from anxiety, use it.

If you have trouble sleeping, use it.

And if you have problems with overeating and emotional eating, this is a great tool to slow down and calm yourself down without using food.

I love 4-7-8 breathing because it’s a way to de-stress that is totally free, low-tech and so effective. I’ve shared it with many clients and I hope you benefit from it and share it with others too!

Simple recap:
Breathe in for 4. Hold for 7. Out for 8. Repeat 4 cycles.

Learn more breathing exercises with Dr. Weil here.