Anxieties are a tad high right now lol
There is a lot of uncertainty all around us + I know that for some of us it has been hard to remain calm and positive this week. I have talked to a lot of people over the past couple of days about things they are doing to try to stay calm + not let what is happening around us consume them.
It seems like many are turning to exercise + turning off the news + staying off social media + yoga + and breathing exercises to help them relax.
Here are a few breathing techniques from heathline.com that can help diminish some of those worries.
Below that are a couple easy calming activities for kids that might also be experiencing some anxiety right now.
ALSO – the video you see there on our laptop is an awesome kids yoga Youtube channel that we love –
LENGTHEN YOUR EXHALE
“Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down. Taking a deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response. But exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.
Taking too many deep breaths too quickly can actually cause you to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain.
When we feel anxious or under stress, it’s easier to breathe too much and end up hyperventilating — even if we’re trying to do the opposite.
- Before you take a big, deep breath, try a thorough exhale instead. Push all the air out of your lungs, then simply let your lungs do their work inhaling air.
- Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. For example, try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six.
- Try doing this for two to five minutes.
This technique can be done in any position that’s comfortable for you, including standing, sitting, or lying down.
Breathing from your diaphragm (the muscle that sits just beneath your lungs) can help reduce the amount of work your body needs to do in order to breathe.
To learn how to breathe from your diaphragm:
- For comfort, lie down on the floor or bed with pillows beneath your head and knees. Or sit in a comfortable chair with your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed, and your knees bent.
- Then, put one hand under your rib cage and one hand over your heart.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose, noticing how or if your stomach and chest move as you breathe.
- Can you isolate your breathing so you bring air deeper into your lungs? What about the reverse? Can you breathe so your chest moves more than your stomach?
Eventually, you want your stomach to move as you breathe, instead of your chest.
Practice belly breathing
- Sit or lie down as described above.
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach somewhere above your belly button.
- Breathe in through your nose, noticing your stomach rise. Your chest should remain relatively still.
- Purse your lips and exhale through your mouth. Try engaging your stomach muscles to push air out at the end of the breath.
For this type of breathing to become automatic, you’ll need to practice it daily. Try doing the exercise three or four times a day for up to 10 minutes.
If you haven’t been using your diaphragm to breathe, you may feel tired at first. It’ll get easier with practice though.
When deep breathing is focused and slow, it can help reduce anxiety. You can do this technique by sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable location. Then:
- Notice how it feels when you inhale and exhale normally. Mentally scan your body. You might feel tension in your body that you never noticed.
- Take a slow, deep breath through your nose.
- Notice your belly and upper body expanding.
- Exhale in whatever way is most comfortable for you, sighing if you wish.
- Do this for several minutes, paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly.
- Choose a word to focus on and vocalize during your exhale. Words like “safe” and “calm” can be effective.
- Imagine your inhale washing over you like a gentle wave.
- Imagine your exhale carrying negative and upsetting thoughts and energy away from you.
- When you get distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath and your words.
Practice this technique for up to 20 minutes daily when you can.”
FOR THE KIDS
Here are a few from helpful tips from Meraki Lane
“There are many examples of mindful breathing you can look up online, but here are some of the favorites that are suitable for younger children and all the way up into their teenage years.
The Bubble Blowing Technique is one of the best for very young children, as it allows them to learn through play. To make it work, give them a small toy soap bubble container and wand to practice blowing bubbles. They will learn quickly that if they blow too hard or too fast, the bubble will burst before it has time to take shape. But by blowing slowly and with purpose, they can blow a perfect bubble. Have them practice the technique with real bubbles before removing the soap and letting them use only their imaginations.
Deep Belly Breathing
The Belly Breathing Exercise is another good one that requires imagination. Using the basic mindful breathing technique described above, have your child take in deep breaths through their nose, while imagining that there is a balloon in their stomach. Their belly should inflate as they breathe in and deflate as they breathe out.
This is a good one for waking up a sluggish child. Have them stand with their feet shoulder-width apart, arms dangling in front of them like an elephant’s trunk. As they take a deep breath in through their nose, have them raise their arms high above their head like an elephant raising its face. As they breathe out through the mouth, the arms can go back down. Repeat a few times to get them laughing.
Bumble Bee Breaths
This is a well-known breathing technique for those who have done yoga. It involves sitting comfortably on the floor with legs crossed. Have the child close their eyes, place their fingers in their ears, breathe in slowly through the nose and then hum out the exhalation. This is a very comforting and calming technique that kids often really enjoy.
Flower breaths are as simple as telling your child to imagine smelling a beautiful flower. Breathe in the scent through their nose and release it through their mouth. They can practice this as you are out and about by stopping to smell the different flowers they see.
Similar to the Bumble Bee Breaths, Hissing Breath involves breathing in through the nose and releasing the breath with a long hissing sound through the mouth. Teach kids to try and let the hissing last as long as they can, as the longer it lasts the better they are controlling their breathing.
This is a great one for just before nap time or any activity that requires calm. The child should imagine a bear hibernating. The idea is to be restful and almost lazy. Breathe in for four seconds, pause for two seconds and breathe out for four seconds. Pause for two seconds and repeat.
Bunny Breaths are often a favorite for kids, as they just love the idea of pretending to be little bunnies. It involves three quick sniffs through the nose and one long exhale through the nose. Kids can choose to act like bunnies, hopping around, sniffing the air, looking for carrots or even burrowing into the ground. This is a great one for when a child is extremely upset and starting to hyperventilate. If they have practiced it enough in a fun way, when it comes time to use it, they will find it very helpful.
Hot Air Balloon
Have your child sit on the floor with legs crossed, cupping hands around their mouth. Have them take a deep breath in through the nose and then slowly blow out through the mouth, moving hands and arms outward with the exhale as if blowing up a hot air balloon. Once the balloon is as big as they can make it, have them breathe normally, swaying side to side as they watch the hot air balloon fly high. The exhale on this breathing technique is very relaxing for children and makes great use of their imaginations.
Dragon Fire Breaths
Have your child place their hands under their chin, interlacing fingers. As they inhale, have them lift their elbows upward around their head, and as they exhale, have them lift their heads up and give a whispered roar into the sky, pretending to be a dragon breathing fire. As they exhale, their arms should fall down toward their sides ones more. This is great for raising energy, and it’s perfect for when a child feels nervous or scared.
There are many games and toys you can try out with children to help them learn these breathing techniques for anxiety. Besides the aforementioned bubbles, you can also try giving your child a small pinwheel to blow as they practice each breathing type. Not only will it help them to learn the techniques, but it has an added bonus of giving them something to focus on to help calm down. Another great toy for them is a hoberman sphere, which is perfect for the belly breathing and the hot air balloon. It helps them to visualize filling something up, as they open the sphere. The bright colors may also help to cheer them up!”
“Conscious breathing heightens awareness and deepens relaxation”. – Dan Brule