4-2-6 Stress Reduction

There's a reason so many effective grounding tools like 5-4-3-2-1 and box breathing use numbers. They’re easy to remember, small enough to accomplish, and 4-2-6 is no exception. 

Often known as 4-7-8 breathing, 4-2-6 is the SARA version of a classic breathing pattern used to manage symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, depression, substance abuse, sleep deprivation, and nightmares. It uses classic, research-backed diaphragmatic breathing to help you feel calm and in control.


To use this grounding technique:

  1. Breathe into your belly for a count of 4
  2. Hold your breath in for a count of 2
  3. Exhale for a count of 6, focusing on the diaphragm (belly area)
  4. Repeat

Do this as many times as you need to in one session, and as many as needed throughout the day. You can always access this directly through toolkit>grounding tools>4-2-6, or bookmark or text this page to yourself.   

If you like this tool, check out the other ones in the sensory grounding series: box breathing, three-part breath, and 5-4-3-2-1

Sara’s story:

I originally learned this as 4-7-8 but found the 7 and 8 were too long, especially in situations where my heart rate was higher and I was already feeling over-stimulated. I find the shorter time helps this tool feel more doable, and it gives me the option to extend the hold and exhale rather than the expectation that I’ll be able to.  Find the version that works for you!

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