Have you blinked and February has arrived before you knew it?
If so, STOP and take a moment,
Just to take stock and make space for you.
And let’s think about laying some good foundations in which to build upon during the remainder of the year.
How can focusing on breathing even for a moment help? It can provide you with a moment to stop, literally! Pause for breath and allow the world to slow down, even if just for that moment. Focusing on breathing connects you with the here and now and is helpful for anxiety, stress, panic attacks, or any fear related situation even trauma and in particular managing flashbacks. In fact, focusing on breathing is a good grounding technique for any mental health issue.
So what do I mean by breathe? I want to invite you to stop for a moment and interrupt the busy life you lead and ask you to take a moment for yourself. We often get caught up in hectic daily schedules and rarely pause for breath, literally! We don’t even notice our own bodies and the stresses they are under, let alone checkout how we are breathing.
So, just for a moment before you read any further, notice your breathing and ask yourself whether it could be different. Could you breathe more effectively? Could you pause for one moment and notice your breathing?
Healthy breathing is breathing down into the belly, using the diaphragm fully to inhale and exhale. This helps maintain a balanced system, keeping mind and body in a calm state.
We are all born with this inbuilt, calming system. Nature designed us to take care of ourselves and to breathe fully, but the stresses and strains of life and those around us who we model ourselves on, teach us (inadvertently albeit!) how to undo this good work.
If you have a cat or a dog next time they are sleeping, notice how they breathe and you’ll see they breathe from the belly, the way nature intended. And for those with babies and young children, next time they are sleeping just notice, how their belly naturally moves.
As daily stresses increase our body begins to take the strain. We hold ourselves differently. Our shoulders become rounded as we hunch up to withdraw from the world and with it, our breathing changes. We begin to breathe from the top part of our chest which means we don’t expand the lungs to their fullest capacity as nature intended us to do so.
So what happens when breathing becomes rapid and/or top heavy? The oxygen and carbon dioxide is not balanced correctly, which can mean we stress our system out as we are not inhaling or exhaling effectively. Our heart, muscles, digestive system, adrenal system don’t work as effectively as they could and as a result our mind and body can become stressed.
So, how do you change the way you breathe?
Sitting upright and comfortably at a time when you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and just notice in the beginning your breathing. Allow it to naturally rise and fall (inhale and exhale) for a couple of minutes to allow it to settle into a natural rhythm. Once settled, notice where you are breathing from. Is it your upper chest area or down to your belly? If down to your belly, great. If not, that’s ok you just have some work to do in order to change it. I usually suggest people visualise the in breathe travelling in through the nose, down through the chest, down through the legs and down to the feet. When exhaling breathe up from your feet, through your legs, up through your body and out through the mouth. Visualising on the journey of the breathe takes away the stress of focusing on the belly area (as it naturally occurs) and tends to be less forced. It also takes away the need to count breathe in and out as it seems to naturally settle itself into a steady rhythm. This may seem awkward at first but with practice this will improve.
Just focusing on your breathing for five minutes, four times a day may relieve stress, reduce anxiety, help with panic attacks and naturally calm body and mind. Practicing outside of an anxiety, panic attack or flashback helps the body learn a new task, making it easier and more likely to help you when you need it.
So, just for a moment
Stop, take some time for you,
You are worth it