Breathing Techniques for a Calm Mind.
Breathing, inhaling, exhaling - we all do it all day everyday. But do you know how much breathing correctly, slowly or mindfully can effect and help your mood, your energy and your anxiety?
Tonight I want to share some breathing techniques to help you clear the mind, reduce your stress, refocus or re-energise and calm your nerves.
1. ABDOMINAL BREATHING
WHEN: If you're stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, facing a stressful situation like a job interview,surgery, dentist visit, kids unwell or hurt or even when you just notice you're breathing shallow. This can also be used while if you're in pain.
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your upper belly (above belly button).
- Breathe in through the nose and ensure your diaphragm inflates. Breathe in for about 5 seconds.
- Breath out completely. Breathe out for about 5 seconds.
- Try for 6 repetitions per minute for 5-10 minutes.
NOTE: This is a good place to start with your breathing techniques to teach yourself to breath in to your stomach rather than your chest. When you're extremely overwhelmed it can be hard to control your breath slowly so try to sit down and really focus on the breath.
2. THE CALMING BREATH / EXHALING LONGER THAN YOU INHALE TECHNIQUE
WHEN: This one can also be used in times of heightened anxiety or panic but is one I find particularly good to practice every day to set you up for the day in a calm way. I usually practice it at the end of my morning meditation for a few minutes. It is a good one to use when you have noticed you have been feeling anxious for an extended period of time or if your heart feels like its racing.
- Place one hand on your chest and on your upper belly.
- Breathe in deeply through the nose for 5 seconds ensuring your stomach expands.
- Exhale through the mouth completely for 7 seconds.
- Ensure that your exhale is at least 2 seconds longer than your inhale to calm the nervous system. If you cannot manage to exhale for 7 seconds try 3 seconds inhale 5 exhale or 4 and 6 etc until you can work up higher and deeper. The longer the breath the calmer you will feel yourself becoming.
NOTE: This is my personal favourite breathing technique that I've found. I find the longer exhale to really calm me and bring down my heart rate when I am anxious.
3. THE SINGLE BREATH
WHEN: This one is perfect for the mamas who need a quick fix and don't have the time to focus for long. This is the perfect one when its witching hour, when baby wont settle, if your toddler is throwing a tantrum or mum life is becoming too much.
- Walk outside or to the closest window for fresh air.
- Take one large and deepest breath in possible in the fresh air.
- Exhale fully and completely.
- Say out loud "I've got this" or "This to shall pass" to give your self positive reassurance.
NOTE: The fresh air and positive reassurance will give you a quick fix and focus. Sometimes you just need to disconnect from the high tension moment to reconnect with yourself.
4. GUIDED VISULISATION
WHEN: This one is a more complex technique that will require the help of someone else or you can find guided visualizations on Youtube. What you want to achieve is finding a happy place where mind can be taken away from the stress or trauma of a certain event or time. This is something I did a lot of with my psychologist over the years. It is often used to help sufferers of PTSD.
- Lay down somewhere comfortable and place your hands on your upper stomach.
- With the help of either a person or a recording allow your mind to go to your "happy place."
- Focus only on visualizing you are there in a positive place OR on your breath.
- Keep your breath long and deep and ensure that your breathing in to your stomach not your chest.
- Any time your focus goes to a different place bring it back to your breath.
NOTE: This one is a bit harder and needs practice but once you get it it is so helpful to help your long term anxiety, depression or mental health. If you see a therapist or counselor and have never practiced this maybe you could ask them to help you with this one.
5. THE FULL BODY OR MOVING BREATH
WHEN: This one is great when your body is feeling tight and stressed. Perfect to do first thing in the morning. It can help with muscle tension, tightness and back pain. I also love this one if I've been sitting at my desk working for too long to re-energize me, loosen my back and help me to refocus.
- Start in a standing position. Bend forward from the hips with your knees slightly bent and let your arms dangle towards the floor.
- Inhale slow and deep as you return to a standing position. Rolling up slowly through each vertebra in your spine, raise your arms up from your sides to above your head lift your head last.
- Hold your breath for a moment at the top of the movement.
- Exhale slowly as you return to your bent forward position.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
NOTE: Try to allow your whole body to stretch and awaken. Take note of how your body feel before and after.
These are just 5 of many, many breathing techniques there are in the world but I thought these ones are simple or ones that can help you with your mental health, mum life moments or overwhelm.
I'd love for you to set yourself a little challenge of practicing some of these each day. I promise you it help a lot. Let me know how you go.