Take a deep breath. It calms the mind - Regina Brett
By now I am sure that many of you have heard about the benefits of breathing. We breathe every minute, every day, for our entire lives. So how can breathing be a self care tool if we are already doing it? The majority of people have either very shallow breathing, or for extended periods of time, hold their breath without much notice. Today we live in a time where we are much more sedentary and often more in our heads than in our bodies. The detachment from the body makes it easy for us to not be aware of our breath. Shallow breathing and the holding of breath will trigger what is called the fight, flight, or freeze response, the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. This stress response creates emotional and physical turmoil within the mind, body, and spirit. By taking a few deep breaths the fight or flight response quickly dissipates, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings about calm. Research on deep breathing has found that sleep:
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Increases healthy sleep
- Assists in the balancing of emotions
- Promotes physical wellbeing
Whether in the morning when you are beginning your day, when you are at school and/or work, at the end of your day, or even preparing for sleep, deep breathing is an incredible tool that promotes stress reduction and calm. A multitude of breathing techniques exists, and all of them are incredibly beneficial. But for today, I would like to focus on a simple deep breathing technique that is one of my favorites; the 4 Count Breath. The beauty of the 4 Count Breath is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. It is a great tool for rebalancing, re-centering, and reducing stress.
4 Count Breath
1. Sit comfortably; feet on the ground; hands comfortably in your lap.
2. Take a deep deep breath into the count of four1 - 2 - 3 - 4
3. Now hold your breath there and count to four1 - 2 - 3 - 4.
4. And now exhale to the count of four1 - 2 - 3 - 4.
5. Again, hold your breath there and count to four1 - 2 - 3 - 4.
6. Then take a deep deep breathe in…and out.
You can do this for as many rounds as you like.I recommend at least 3 rounds.
Watch the mind become more still, the body more calm, and the spirit open up. We will definitely return to this self care tool in the future - for there are so many incredible breathing techniques for stress reduction, letting go, resetting, rebalancing, relaxing, and all things self-care.