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Take A Deep Breath

Posted by Joel Marion on March 20, 2009

Yesterday I was having one of those days. You know, the type of day where everything seems to be out of whack and a hundred inconveniences seem to jump out of nowhere.

We all have them. They’re part of life.

The icing on the cake, though, came later in the day when I got a flat tire.

And of course it was rush hour.

And of course it was on a major highway.

So there I was on the side of the road, annoyed, attempting to change my tire in the midst of hundreds of cars whizzing by me at 70 mph.

And then I realized something.

I was letting the day’s circumstances−circumstances that were completely out of my control−get the best of me. It was affecting my energy, and that’s something that I really try to avoid.

So, I put down the tire iron, got back in the car, turned on the radio and started to breathe.

You see, a long time ago I learned the value of using controlled breathing from a martial arts instructor friend of mine. Now, you may be thinking “Yeah, okay…controlled breathing…Tai Qui…oogly moogly” and you know what, that’s exactly how I looked at it once, too.

But then I gave it a try. And it works.

The fact is, controlled breathing exercises are an extremely useful tool for managing stress and renewing focus. And in just a minute, I want to share with you one relaxation breathing exercise that has been clinically proven to reduce stress and sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity. In fact, almost immediately after you begin to breathe like this, the body begins to calm itself. Heart rate slows, anxiety decreases, and you can just “feel” the effects.

Here it is:

The 4-7-8 technique:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth.
  • Breathe in completely through your nose over a period of 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth for a period of 8 seconds.

Repeat the exercise three more times for a total of 4 breaths.

Try it now for proof. See how it makes you feel. I can guarantee if you do, you’ll use it again…especially when you need it most.

And in a couple minutes I was back out working on the tire, only with a completely different attitude.

Don’t let circumstances out of your control dictate your energy. And if you sense they might be, take some time to breathe.

Stay focused,


P.S.  There are two things I want you to do in the comments section today:

1.  Stop what you are doing, and give the 4-7-8 technique a try right now.  Can you “feel” it working?

2.  I want to know what types of techniques do you use to “relax” when life’s stress gets in the way?  What’s your best/favorite “de-stressor”?

Give me at least 20 replies and I’ll be back on Monday with brand new content!


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