7-11 Breathing Technique for Relaxation

You can significantly reduce your feelings of fear and anxiety by utilising natural physiological responses. The autonomic nervous system is a network of nerves throughout your body. It controls unconscious processes and has three sub systems, each with its own role:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System: This system activates body processes that have evolved to protect you in times of stress or danger. And is best known for its role in responding to dangerous or stressful situations where it activates your body’s “fight-or-flight” response. It sends signals to increases heart rate and deliver more blood to parts of the body that need more oxygen and activates other responses to help you get away from danger.
  2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System: In contrast, the Parasympathetic system counterbalances the Sympathetic system. It is the off switch responsible for reseting “rest-and-digest” body processes.
  3. The Enteric Nervous System: This part of the autonomic nervous system manages your body’s digestion processes.

The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems create a balancing effect. The Sympathetic system activates body processes, while the Parasympathetic system deactivates or lowers them. Having these two sides working in balance is crucial for your body’s well-being, promoting calmness, reducing anxiety, and controlling stress levels.

Activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System reset can be achieved via deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques. This involves slow, deep breaths where the diaphragm contracts during inhalation and relaxes during exhalation. Because the vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, which is the primary respiratory muscle, diaphragmatic movement stimulates the vagus nerve, activating the rest-and-digest relaxation response of the Parasympathetic nervous system.

One of the simplest techniques is the 7-11 breathing technique where the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.

– Inhale for a count of 7.

– Exhale for a count of 11.

– Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Ensure you breathe deeply, engaging your diaphragm muscles rather than shallow breathing to maximize the benefits.

If this technique seems too long, especially for beginners, you can start with shorter counts, such as 3 and 5. Remember, the goal is to:

1. Take a deep breath into your diaphragm.

2. Exhale for a longer duration than you inhale.

You will experience a calming effect on your mind and body. Counting to 7 and 11 also serves as an excellent mindful distraction from immediate problems.

For young children feeling anxious, encourage them to blow bubbles. This simple activity helps them exhale more than they inhale, activating their Parasympathetic Nervous System and promoting emotional regulation.

This mindful breathing exercise can be practised at home as part of self-care. Utilizing your body’s natural physiological responses is one aspect of inducing calmness.

When things are working in balance the fear response is normally triggered by a real, clear and present danger. However because the amygdala, an area of your brain that triggers fear and the fight or flight responses responds to sensory stimuli, the fear response can be triggered by a memory of or the thought of something scary.

This is why learning to have control of your thoughts and mind is a crucial part of stopping the fear and being able to feel calm.

Published On: October 16th, 2023 / Categories: Uncategorised /