Breathing is a Superpower!
Our My Mind Matters! consultant, Jessica Bowers, has written a very special blog this month about our theme: breathing. We often take it for granted.. but in times of stress it can be a real super power. If this blog reminds you to breath in more often, then our job is truly done!
It feels appropriate that while I am writing this blog, I’m breathing in the beautiful sea air of Padstow in Cornwall. When I breathe the Cornish air and see the breath-taking view, I feel present and connected to myself and the world around me. Mindful breathing enables me to embody this experience and feel truly alive.
Breathing is an elemental expression of life, and neuroscientists have proven that there is a clear link between our breathing and how we experience emotions in our bodies. However, we usually breathe all day, every day, without being aware of the effect it can have on us.
To breathe mindfully involves inhaling air in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Don’t do anything else – just take it in and let it out, paying attention to what you are feeling at the moment.
Emotions can be felt deeply in our bodies, and it is vital that we are aware of the role mindful breathing can play in supporting a healthy and positive emotional state.
The expression ‘don’t forget to stop and smell the roses’ is not just an empty statement, but a great example of how we can connect with the world around us and take it in. In fact, getting children to enjoy smelling flowers is a good way to help them become aware of the effect mindful breathing can have. If you ask them to breathe in and out while focussing on the flowers they are smelling, they are discovering that breathing connects us to our surroundings and can help us to feel calm.
The process of breathing also has a key role to play in grounding us and making us feel calm and centred. Counting can help us to pace our breathing and control any anxious thoughts going through our minds. This can also help kids to focus and settle down. It’s particularly useful before bedtime or story time!
If you are working on positive affirmations, they can be much more effective when combined with conscious breathing. Doing this helps us to absorb the affirmations into our bodies as well as our minds.
Mindful breathing can be enjoyed by the whole family. If added to our daily routines, it can have a positive effect on our mental health. This is a wonderful gift to give to our children – this simple practice can help develop their emotional resilience and well-being as they grow.
Scientific research has proven that if we stand in the superhero pose (legs apart, hands on hips and chest puffed out) and breathe in and out for two to four minutes, then we will feel more confident and powerful. I suggest you try it for yourself! This is a great one to do with children of all ages. My kids love it (and so do I)!
Here are some ideas for how to incorporate mindful breathing into your daily routine:
- Do it outdoors! Try doing mindful breathing as part of a family walk or scavenger hunt. Find a green spot that feels peaceful and magical and get everyone to breathe in and out a few times before continuing on your adventure. I bet you will feel more energetic thanks to the lovely fresh air!
- Easy Yoga! This is a wonderful introduction to mindful breathing, and there are plenty of videos available online for children and families. You could include a breathing exercise as part of your evening routine. It’s even better when combined with candles and relaxing music. Your children might enjoy choosing their own songs to relax to!
- Try it in the morning! I have three children, so I don’t have much free time. However, doing a few minutes of mindful breathing each morning makes a profound difference to my day. I close my eyes and relax my body with every breath and then answer these three questions:
1. What am I grateful for?
2. What am I proud of?
3. What is my intention for today?
- Set a small, achievable target. This should help anyone who wakes up feeling overwhelmed by the challenges they will face during the day.
I hope this blog encourages you to think more about conscious breathing, and I hope you were inhaling and exhaling mindfully while you read this blog. Conscious breathing is a fabulous superpower that helps us to deal with the anxiety and stress we face in our lives. Remember to use it!