Keep it simple: De-stress with deep breathing

Feb 25, 2015

There are many things that can cause us to feel anxious and stressed throughout the day.  Sometimes daily routines can get chaotic and hectic, especially when working with large groups.  There is a quick and simple solution you can do anytime, anywhere to help you recharge and refocus.   Deep breathing! 

On average, humans take about 12 breaths per minute.  When you feel stressed out or anxious, that number dramatically increases.  By using deep breathing, you can allow yourself a brief yet deliberate withdrawal from a stressful situation.  A deep breath allows for an increased intake of oxygen.  This increase combats any negative symptoms, physical or mental, that are associated with anxious or stressful situations.

Once you take a few deep breaths, you can focus your attention on the right things, and enhance your confidence and self-control.  Anyone can utilize their breathing to calm the mind and release any physical tension in the body.  Below are some steps to raise awareness of your breathing and step-by-step instructions to taking full, complete breaths.  You can choose to use these techniques for yourself or you can guide your kids through a relaxation session. 

Become Aware of Your Breathing:

  • Place both feet on the floor and sit up straight (or stand).
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  • Allow yourself to take breath normally for about 10 seconds.
    • Notice which hand is moving more.
    • Typically, people say the hand resting on the chest moves more.

When taking a deep, full breath, the goal is to have your lower hand moving more than the top hand.

Guide to Deep Breathing:

  • Imagine your upper body as three connected chambers.
    • The first chamber encompasses your belly.
    • The second encompasses your ribcage.
    • The third encompasses your chest.
  • Sit up straight (or stand) with your feet firmly on the floor.
    •  Make sure your legs are uncrossed.
    • Rest your hands in your lap or down by your side (if standing).
  • As you inhale, imagine air filling your belly and allow it to expand.
  • With the same breath, continue to fill your ribcage and finally your chest.
  • Hold this breath for three to five seconds.
  • Release your air slowly.
    • First, allow air to escape from your chest allowing your shoulders to fall.
    • Next, release air from your ribcage causing it to contract.
    • Finally, squeeze all of the air from your belly.
  • Continue to take a few more breaths like that and notice your mind and body begin to relax.
  • By practicing breathing techniques such as this one, you can learn to quickly relax your body by taking just a few deep breaths.  You can do this anytime you feel yourself start to become tense or anxious. 

Celebrate the individual!  Remember that everyone is different, and it may take longer for some to relax than others.  The more you practice deep breathing, the better you will become, and the easier it will be to relax.  It is our goal that with a calm mind and relaxed body you can be the best that you can be in order to give your best to your kids.