4-7-8 breathing

4-7-8 Breathing

Use a specific breathing pattern (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8) to induce relaxation.


Achieve deep relaxation and calmness in a short amount of time.


Struggling to find an effective and quick technique to combat stress and nervousness. The main problems include the following:

  • Difficulty in calming down when feeling overwhelmed
  • Trouble falling asleep at night 🥱
  • Feeling stressed throughout the day
  • Inability to focus and stay present in the moment


4-7-8 Breathing technique, a simple and easy-to-follow method that helps to calm the mind and relax the body.

In a nutshell:

  1. Close your eyes and exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  4. Exhale gently through your mouth for a count of 8.
  5. Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle at least three more times.

My Take

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a popular one – for good reasons. It’s straightforward, and it’s also backed by science!

When we practice this technique, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This system slows down our heart rate, helps our body to relax, and hence reduces stress. Compared to other methods, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is perfect for those who need a quick and easy solution to reduce stress.

I practice it occasionally to experiment with it, and to compare it with the results from other techniques. In particular, I regularly try it out when I cannot fall asleep. And yeah, it has some positive impacts and makes it a good fallback method for me.


  • Easy to learn and perform
  • Can be practiced anywhere, anytime
  • Fast-acting for immediate relief
  • No equipment or particular setup needed


  • May take some practice to get the counting rhythm right
  • Might not be suitable for people with breathing difficulties


Here are some personal learnings to share regarding the 4-7-8 breathing technique:

  • I practice it in a quiet and comfortable environment to minimize distractions.
  • I make sure to maintain a slow and steady rhythm while practicing.
  • I switched to using a breathing app like this one to remove the “counting responsibility” 😉. When using the app, I practice it typically for several minutes i.e. definitely more than three cycles.
  • Sometimes I find it challenging to hold my breath for a count of 7, so I then switch to a shorter count and gradually increase it as I get more comfortable.
  • Occasionally, I try to incorporate this technique into my daily routine, such as during work breaks, before bedtime, or when I wake up. Just to gain more experience with it – it’s still not my #1 breathing technique, but for sure, it has its merits and is a pleasant one.