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3 Types of Breathing to Help Manage Cravings


When you are addicted to a substance, there is no surefire way of getting rid of cravings completely. Even once you have detoxed from the substance and are no longer physically dependent on it, you may feel cravings.

They may mostly be minor cravings that do not have the power to divert you from your course. However, managing strong cravings can be tough, especially when you are already having a tough day.

Breathing to Help Manage Cravings

This is why breathing techniques can be so useful. They are easy to master and can be used even when everything else feels impossible. Here are 3 types of breathing that can help you manage your cravings.

1. 4-7-8 Breathing:

4-7-8 breathing has gained a lot of popularity among therapists, mindfulness teachers, and even business coaches. It helps ground you in your body, which makes it easier to ride the wave of the craving. You will still feel the craving, but it may be less overwhelming now that you are more present in your body.

Here’s how it works.

  • inhale through your nose for a count of 4
  • hold your breath in for a count of 7
  • exhale (through your nose or mouth) for a count of 8

Repeat this a number of times. Focus on getting used to the pacing. It might help to place your attention on your nostrils where the air is coming in and out or on the rising and falling of your belly.

2. Square Breathing:

Square breathing is another type of breathing that focuses on each aspect of the breathing process. However, instead of counting 4, 7, and 8, you count the same number with each step.

  • inhale for a count of 5
  • hold your breath in for a count of 5
  • exhale for a count of 5
  • hold for a count of 5 before inhaling again

It is called square breathing because it contains 4 equal steps. You can use a count of 5 or any other number that is comfortable for you.

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing:

We usually breathe without thinking about it. Once you place your attention on your breath, you notice that the source of your breathing is your nose or mouth. You pull in air through your nose or mouth and let it out again. However, there is another way of breathing that takes a bit of getting used to.

Rather than pulling in air through your nose, simply raise your diaphragm (or belly). Air will come in on its own. Then, when you are ready to exhale, contract your diaphragm again.

You do not need to count your breaths although you can if you want to. This method works because by changing the way you breathe, you make it more purposeful and intentional, grounding yourself more effectively in your body. You achieve more awareness that cravings come and go, and you can simply watch as it happens.

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