Stop for a minute: Mindful Breathing

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Be Healthy, Six Ways to Wellbeing | 0 comments

Stop for A Minute – Just Breathe.

Being healthy is one of our six ways to wellbeing. Often when people are asked to list activities which can enhance their health, they say things like exercise, healthy eating, or getting enough sleep, etc. However, one underrecognized activity which I have recently come across is mindful breathing, which involves paying particular attention to your breath – the inhale, and the exhale. One mindful breathing technique I personally use is 4-7-8 breathing; this involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and breathing out for a following 8 seconds. When beginning my final year of university, I decided to incorporate this technique into my daily routine, and I found that it immediately enhanced my wellbeing by giving me time to relax and reenergize. Even just taking one minute to breathe per day gave me the extra boost of concentration and focus that I needed.


So, how does mindful breathing work? How the positive effects of mindful breathing occur can get quite scientific, but the gist is that by taking voluntary control over our breathing patterns and heart rate, we increase what’s called our ‘heart-rate variability’ or HRV. HRV is the variation in time between each successive heart beat we experience. Research has shown that a high HRV leads to positive effects in health and emotional wellbeing, for instance, a stronger immune system, better sleep quality, and increased relaxation. In fact, the 4-7-8 breathing I described above was specifically developed to reduce anxiety and to help people to fall asleep. Thus, not only does mindful breathing allow us to take a step back and pause the chaotic lives we live, but it also has a direct impact on our physical health.


My favourite aspect of mindful breathing is that it can be done just about anywhere! If you’re at home, at the park, on a train, at a friend’s house – wherever! So why not find any quiet space today, or tomorrow, and try it. Try the 4-7-8 breathing; you only need to practice it one minute per day to start feeling more positive and relaxed – so there are no excuses! I know it’s easy to get wrapped up with the million things you do in one day, or to simply say “I can’t be bothered” … trust me, I’m guilty of doing that myself. But even when you feel overwhelmed with work, or your assignments are piling up, or you have so many jobs to do that you can’t keep track – just stop for a minute and breathe. What harm can a 1-minute break do to your 24-hour day? Give your mind and body a brief moment to relax and rejuvenate. In my experience, doing this has actually made me even more productive and motivated than ever.

By Noor Melody Nasseri