Breathing is Kind of a Big Deal
How do we support ourselves while we are supporting others?
The short answer is: with intentional effort! It takes planning, self-knowledge/awareness, and tools in order to budget and restore our energy, it doesn’t just happen. We need to tend to our own unique needs consistently and develop our internal resources in order to best support others. Self-awareness is key. As you are reading this, how is your breathing? Is it shallow? Quick? Are you aware of your breath at all? Becoming aware of our breath is a great way to connect to our body and bring ourselves into the moment rather than dwelling on the recent past or stressing about what is going to happen in the future. Taking a mental note of our breath can quickly ground us into the moment where we are able to respond to life’s demands more intentionally. What happens when we breathe intentionally is that we become more able to access our calmer state of mind, and from there, we make better decisions and react in ways that feel thoughtful and effective. Research supports that paced breathing regulates the autonomic nervous system and is linked to body awareness (Bullock, 2019). If you are interested in learning more I’ve linked an article. berkeley.edu
There are many different ways to become more aware of your breath. You can play around and get curious to find a breathing tool that works for you. When you find one that brings you results, practice it while you are feeling calm, then you’ll be more likely to use this resource during stress. Belly Breathing is another great way to get connected to your breath. Simply put your hand on your stomach and breathe in a way that raises your belly as opposed to the chest area. Here is a family-friendly video that teaches belly breathing: youtube.com
Another tool is 4, 4, 8 count breathing. I find this to be the perfect little reset tool. You inhale to the count of four, then hold for four counts, then exhale to the count of eight. You may adjust the numbers to find a comfortable sequence for you. If you are a teacher you might use this as you walk the hallways back into your classroom. If you are a parent you may use this as a transition tool between your work and your child’s schoolwork. You may find this tool helpful as you try to calm your thoughts and body while you prepare for sleep.
I’m currently reading The New York Times Bestseller, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this topic, here is a link that introduces the book: Breath
Finally, here is a summary of different breathing tools: berkeley.edu
Take good care,