Breathing for focus using the 4-4-8 breathing technique

The 4-4-8 breathing technique is a basic breathing technique which is designed to help you relax and focus. This technique is great if you feel stressed or tense. Using this technique will help you get rid of the tension so you can focus on what you need to do. No matter what your goal is, controlling the breath will help you focus and clarify your thinking.

This breathing method will only be successful if you are totally at ease and relaxed.  If you are tense then it makes good sense to relax your body. One basic relaxation technique involves you laying flat on the floor or sitting comfortably on a chair with your feet firmly flat on the ground. Close your eyes and gradually tense and relax each part of the body working upwards from your feet to your head. Once you feel you are fully relaxed you need to switch your attention to your breath.

This breathing exercise will help you focus and clear your mind as well as lift your mood.

The Technique

Start by inhaling quietly through your nose for four counts of time.  Make sure you fill your lungs completely to the point where you feel your abdomen is filled full of air like a balloon.  Hold your breath for four counts. Then, through pursed lips, slowly exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for eight counts.

It will take a few attempts before you feel comfortable but you will soon find a rhythm that suits you as there is no wrong way of using this technique.  As you are inhaling visualize health and vitality entering your body, while holding the count of four imagine perfect health and energy filling each and every cell in your body. When you exhale imagine you are blowing away the pain, fatigue, tension and stress that you have in your body.

How it works

Basically, it is the longer exhale that will calm you down. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase on every breath in. Then, for every breath out the opposite happens and your blood pressure and heart rate go down. The result will leave you feeling more relaxed and less stressed. So by exhaling for twice as long as you inhale, you’re effectively hitting your off switch.

Whenever you feel stressed or low or want a boost of energy, simply carrying out 3 to 4 sets in a row will to help lift your mood.  Inspiratory muscle training is also a breathing technique that is great for healthy and happy lungs.

10 thoughts on “Breathing for focus using the 4-4-8 breathing technique”

    • Thank you for your comment Sumithrara – good question! Basically, a longer exhale is what actually calms you down. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase on every breath in; then for every breath out the opposite happens, so your blood pressure and heart rate goes down, leaving you more relaxed and less stressed. So by exhaling for twice as long as you inhale, you’re effectively hitting your off switch.

      Reply
  1. Thanks, Vanessa, for the lovely article. Just a small clarification I need.
    “Whenever you feel stressed or low or want a boost of energy, simply carrying out three sets of twelve repetitions will to help lift your mood.”
    Does the above line means that we do 4 – 12 breathing three times. Please confirm.

    Reply
    • Oops, sorry for the confusion. Yes I’ve just re-read it and it should read 3 – 4 breathing sets to help calm the nervous system down. Thank you for coming back and pointing this out – it’s much appreciated. I’ve now amended the blog too, thanks to your input, which will also help others, so thank you once again 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi Vanessa , Thank you for your lovely article. This 4-4-8 breathing is brilliant . I have high blood pressure, I prolong my expiration for 10 seconds ,so I do a slight variation & it is a 4-4-10 breathing , so 4-4-10 is one set . I have found that if I do 10 sets at one time , it calms me down tremendously and the blood pressure decreases ,also less stress and anxiety.
        Recommend 10 sets 3-4 times a day like 3 meal, will definitely transform your life for the better .
        Kind regards

        Reply
        • Oh that’s great to hear of how you’ve adapted it to suit your own requirements. I’m so pleased it’s made a difference and well done on finding your own bespoke solution. Thank you for sharing it here so that others may try it too and experience the same benefits. Best wishes to you.

          Reply
    • Thank you Gia for your question. You should inhale quietly through your nose with your mouth closed for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4. Then, exhale through your pursed lips making a whoosh sound for a count of 8. Thank you again for your question and I will update the blog accordingly. Much appreciated. Best wishes to you.

      Reply
  2. I have vertigo due to spondylitis. If I travel over bumpy roads without collar, next day, I get vertigo. It takes one week to become normal along with Vertin tablet.
    Will this breathing help me?

    Reply

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