I am Niamh Lynch, a Psychotherapist at Smaointe CBT Mental Healthcare. One of the exercises that I find helpful for my clients is the 711 Breathing Technique.
This is an exercise that can be used to calm panic or anxiety attacks, hyperventilation, to manage anger, to relax you at the end of a stressful day, to get you ready for a busy day or to help with concentration before an exam or an interview etc. This exercise is a very simple but effective technique to help with all of the above.
How do you do it?
The 711 breathing technique works by taking a breath in for a count of 7 and out for a count 11.
Breathe in through your nose to a count of seven. Imagine the air is reaching all the way down to your diaphragm so your stomach gently pushes out with the breath.
Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 11 (if you find it too hard to breathe out 11, start off with 3/6 and work up to 7/11. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in).
Repeat as many times as necessary for you to feel better and until you feel more relaxed.
How Does It Work?
The 7/11 technique works on the part of the body called the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for things such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes. When we breathe in, receptors are sent to quicken our heartbeat, increase our breathing rate and increase adrenalin production.
However when we breathe out, receptors are stimulated to slow our heartbeat, reduce our breathing rate and decrease adrenaline production. In simpler language, when we breathe in we get excited and when we breathe out we relax.
Other benefits of this technique are:
Helping us to take our minds off our worries, as it needs concentration.
It also helps to relax us, thereby giving us access to the rational thinking part of the brain which gets shut down in stressful situations, allowing us to think our way around problems.