This week marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month and we thought it was a good time to share one of the core skills we practice on our programmes that helps us to manage stress – a breathing technique called “7/11”.
Our breath is an amazing tool! It is pretty handy in keeping us alive, but it has so much more potential than our subconscious life support machine. Simply noticing that you are breathing can be really helpful to bring you into the present moment.
There is nothing complicated about this technique – it’s simply about breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11. The pace at which you count doesn’t matter, what matters is that the out breath is significantly longer than the in breath. Many of us aren’t used to breathing in very deeply and, if this is the case for you, it might be helpful to put your hand on your tummy and really feel yourself breathing down into your belly.
If it’s new to you and feels difficult, just keep practicing. Don’t judge yourself for getting it wrong, notice that you are willing to give something new a go. Over time you may find that you can slow your counting down so that you are able to breathe in deeper and out longer.
The long out breath clicks in your parasympathetic nervous system – the opposite to our fight or flight mechanism. The parasympathetic systems calms us down and has us able to respond rather than react.
We would recommend you doing this in two different ways. It is worth practicing once or twice a day, breathing in this way for a couple of minutes, perhaps when you get up or just before you go to sleep.
The other time to use it is when someone or something has pressed your buttons, or you’re about to do something that makes you nervous. Just one or two rounds of 7/11 breathing will help you respond in a less charged way.
Our own experience, together with that of the many people we’ve worked with, tells us that 7/11 breathing makes a massive positive difference to how we respond to people and situations in all areas of our life.
A regular daily practice is likely to create more calmness in your life. Using it in-the-moment means you can think about what you are going to say even in the trickiest of situations. It will also help you sleep and we all know that high quality sleep is good for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
The absolute best way to help the people around you is by walking the talk. If you have great habits already, demonstrate them – this will open up opportunities for conversations about the things you do that make a difference to your life.
If not, maybe you could begin by trying this simple technique and seeing what a difference it makes to your life over time.
We would love to hear your feedback, whatever your experience. Remember just like the 7/11 shop that was round the corner from us when we were kids, your breath is always there.