Top tip to counteract cravings: The 7/11 BREATHING EXERCISE
Q: What is the 7/11 technique and what is it used for?
A: The 7/11 technique is a breathing exercise where you breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. It is used to help you relax and gain/regain composure in a variety of situations.
Q: What can it be used for?
A: It can be used to help calm panic/anxiety attacks, hyperventilation, to relax you at the end of a stressful day, to get you ready for a busy day, to manage anger outbursts, to aid concentration before an exam/interview etc – and almost any state which leads to high emotional arousal – such as a craving for a cigarette.
Q: How does it work?
A: It works in several ways:
- It works on the body’s autonomic nervous system. When we breathe in receptors are stimulated to quicken our heartbeat, increase our breathing rate, and increase adrenaline production – and when we breathe out our receptors are stimulated to slow our heartbeat, reduce our breathing rate and decrease adrenaline production (in simple terms: when we breath in we get excited and when we breath out we relax).
- Because it relaxes us it gives access to the rational thinking part of the brain, which get shut down in stressful situations, allowing us to think our way around problems.
Q: Is it difficult to learn?
A: NO! Anyone who can breathe and count to 11 can learn it. Here’s how:
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit and relax.
- It helps, when you are first practising, to sit in front of a mirror so that you can see your progress.
- Sit in a chair with your shoulders relaxed and your hands folded gently over your tummy.
- If possible breathe in and out through your nose. In for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11 (if you find it too hard to breathe out for 11, start off with 3/6 and work up go 7/11. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in).
- If you are doing it correctly your shoulders will remain still and your tummy will get bigger and smaller as you breathe (called belly or diaphragmatic breathing). If you sit in front of a mirror you can keep an eye on your shoulders and tummy.
- Once you can keep your shoulders still and relaxed without effort it is a good idea to close your eyes and try to picture the numbers in your mind’s eye to help you concentrate completely on your breathing.
Try and practice the technique morning and evening for 5-10 minutes to give you an essential tool to cope with today’s hectic pace of life…….and combat urges to smoke!!
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