How a “4-6-8 Breath” Can Help You Calm Your Stress

by Scott Crabtree

Can mindful breathing help you unlock better options in times of stress? Discover the power of a “4-6-8 breath” to calm your body & brain! Join Scott Crabtree, CEO of Happy Brain Science, on a journey through 100+ science-based solutions from our Choose Happiness @ Work card game! This post features the solution: 4-6-8 Breath.

***Watch the video or continue reading below.***



4-6-8 Breath: Breathe in as much as possible for 4 seconds. Hold that breath for 6 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. Everybody try it now!
100+ ways to thrive at work!

This Choose Happiness @ Work card says: “4-6-8 Breath. Breathe in as much as possible for four seconds. Hold that breath for six seconds. Exhale for eight seconds. ‘Everybody try it now!'” it says.

For those who don’t know, this is a card game that teaches happiness at work. And when you play it, if this is picked as a winning solution to a problem, then everyone is supposed to try it now.

And I know I could certainly benefit from trying it now, so here goes. Feel free to join alongit’ll help you relax, and therefore thrive at work.

Let’s try a 4-6-8 breath!

In as much as possible for a count of four (1…2…3…4).

Hold it (1…2…3…4…5…6).

Out for eight (1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8).

What does this have to do with happiness at work? It has to do with managing our stress. The stress response is designed to keep you alive in times of threat, out there in the cold harsh wilderness. If you are on a hike and you see a mountain lion, you will not respond with deep, slow breathing.

You will, to the contrary, respond with quick, shallow breathing to very quickly oxygenate your blood and get you ready to sprint if you need to. “Fight, flight, or freeze” is how we respond to intense stress. Deep, slow breathing happens when we’re more relaxed.

Reverse-engineering calm

Science has shown there’s a two-way street between our body and our mind. So if we do things that we typically do when we’re relaxed, it tends to have a relaxing effect on our mind.

As the card says at the bottom, “Because this slow breathing triggers a relaxation response, helping you manage stress for best brain function.” The “fight, fight, or freeze” response might help you stay alive with mountain lions, but it doesn’t help you thrive at work.

2, 4-6-8…Help your brain recalibrate!

You need more than three options if you’re going to be really successful at work, and do your best work, so a 4-6-8 breathor two, or as many as you need to calm downcan help you find better solutions and do better work…because you’re considering more than three options to the stress you encounter at work.

So I hope you will try it now as well, and try it next time you encounter unwanted stress at work.

Thanks for choosing happiness with me.

Want more great videos about being happier at work?

For more tips like this, please subscribe to the Happy Brain Science YouTube channel and/or check out my “serious game”: Choose Happiness @ Work.