The Power of Breathing
In my treatment room I work a lot with children and teenagers and the current climate has led to many children and teenagers feeling worried, anxious and overwhelmed.
After their treatment I like to teach them some tools or coping skills that they can practice at home. My favorite is deep breathing and I feel that it is one of the most important tools that we can teach children and teenagers.
Breathing is something that we do all day, everyday without even noticing that we are doing it. But by being more aware of our breathing, it can be an incredible powerful tool especially for children.
Research has shown us how mindfulness can have such powerful effects on the body and mind and mindfulness usually begins with breathing. By teaching children how to control their breathing we are giving them the ability to focus and control their reactions to any situation. It can help with self regulation.
When our breath is shallow and fast, it can trigger the release of stress hormones which can increase our heart rate and blood pressure. When our breath is slow, deep and controlled, it signals the body to release hormones that are associated with feelings of calm and wellbeing, our heart rate reduces, our blood pressure decreases and the body relaxes.
It is important that they practice their breathing when they are calm and happy and they will be able to call upon it when they need it in times of stress and worry.
I would like to share one of the breathing activities I use with children and you can use it at home with your children and it’s a great opportunity to work on your own breathing while teaching them. It is a gift that they will use for the rest of their lives.
It is fun and visual. It is called feather finger breathing.
Allow your child to choose a coloured feather and with this feather they will trace around their fingers while breathing in and out.
They can begin at the outside base of their thumb and while they move the feather to the tip of their thumb the can breathe in through their nose for 1,2,3,4, then as they move from the tip of their thumb down to the base of the inside of the thumb beside the first finger they can breathe out through their mouth for 1,2,3,4, then they can rest for 1,2,3,4.
They can continue this routine tracing up and down each finger until they have done all 5 fingers, breathing in and out and taking a break at each finger base.
It is important to ensure that they do it slowly and when the breathe in through their nose that their belly inflates and when they breathe out that their belly deflates.
It will take practice and patience but it will be so worthwhile. Bedtime is an ideal time to begin this practice.
I hope you have fun and enjoy doing this activity with your child.