Harvard University discovered the beneficial effect of deep abdominal breathing in reducing anxiety and stress.
Simply by pulling the breath deep down into the abdomen it is possible to switch off the stress chemistry. Anxious breathing is generally high in the upper chest. It is common for many children in modern-day life to breathe this way.
Teaching children this simple strategy of deep abdominal breathing (pulling the breath down) is a great start to helping them feel more empowered and in control, reducing anxious thinking and feelings. Start by:
1. Explain and demonstrate to children how pulling the breath down into their lower abdomen can turn off the anxious feelings that make them worried or fill their heads with unwanted thoughts.
2. Show children where to place their hands on their lower abdomen and allow them to feel the rise and fall of the abdomen as they breathe deeply ensuring they are not breathing in their upper chest.
Try 4-7-8 Breathing
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. X 3.
Window Breathing 4 – 4 -4 - 4
Find a rectangle - Start by looking along the short edge, inhaling as you do so for 4. When you reach the longest length exhale for 4 as your eyes follow the line down. Do this along the other sides, remembering to inhale for 4 on the short sides and exhale for 4 on the longer ones. Repeat until your breathing returns to normal and you feel calm and relaxed.
Hot Chocolate Breathing
Imagine you have a cup of hot chocolate in your cupped hands and breath in the delicious aroma… hold it… then breathe out slowly. Keep going for 4 rounds.
By focusing the mind on something and breathing deeply children can feel calm and in control moving away from anxious feelings. They know how to help themselves. What a great feeling!