We clearly breathe all the time (kind of essential!) but how often do you harness your breath as an intentional tool for calm?
Breathing slow and deep and feeling anxious are opposites. When we feel stressed or anxious, we tend to breathe much more quickly and take shallow breaths. But by slowing our breath down and breathing deeply we are telling our body and mind that the stress has passed, that all is ok.
Parenting brings with it times of stress which can lead us to responding quickly and sometimes in a way we regret. If we learn to breathe when we feel this way, it gives us a moment to gather ourselves and a chance to calm before responding, which makes an enormous difference. Breathing deeply sends a message to your brain to calm and relax and therefore we diffuse our stress rather than add to it.
SO HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Firstly, practice makes perfect. Have a go when you are not in a stressed situation so you get the chance to figure it out. Then practise it often as a tool for calm so that is comes naturally when you need to use it. A great top tip is to use this technique to ‘breathe yourself to sleep’ at night. We can so often go to bed and then our minds fill with all kinds of thoughts. Focus on your breath, count it in and out if it helps and you will find your mind clearing and sleep beckoning.
Firstly, it is about making sure you are breathing to the right place. You want to be focusing on your diaphragm and not your chest. Your diaphragm sits just below your ribs. This will make your breath much deeper and allow for a full intake of oxygen which will slow your heartbeat and lower blood pressure.
Place your hands on your diaphragm and take a deep breath in through your nose. You want to feel your diaphragm move outwards towards your hands as you breathe in.
Then breathe out using your mouth. Keep your hands on your diaphragm and you should feel it relax and move back in again.
Now try again. With your eyes closed if possible. Breathe into your hands where they are resting on your diaphragm. Make the breath as slow and long as you can without making it feel strained.
Now breathe out through your mouth, as slowly as you can, feeling your diaphragm relax. Making your mouth nice and small, almost as though you are whistling, helps you to breathe out more slowly and in a controlled manner.
Repeat. Keep going until you feel calmer.
Use it as often as you can as a way of restoring balance and helping centre yourself. It is beautifully effective.