Deep Breathing Techniques
Each Wednesday a member of The Churchill School and Center's Mental Health Support Services Department will provide some insight into helping all of us manage ourselves and loved ones during this challenging situation. We hope you enjoy the posts and find them helpful and useful.
Hello, Churchill community. Each one of us is living through this covert experience in a different way. And while every situation is unique, there are a few things that each of us can begin doing today that can make this experience a little less stressful. Even after we pass through this time, this technique that is scientifically proven can make our lives happier and give us a better sense of control. For the last 14 years, as the male school psychologist at Churchill, we've been successfully using deep breathing techniques.
These techniques not only work for our students, but for our faculty and my clients in private practice. And I'm excited to share them with you today. If you've never tried it or even if you're an expert, please join me in the next three or so minutes where I'm going to describe the benefits and what science has shown, demonstrate practice techniques and give you tips on how to teach. Encourage your children to use this strategy. Thank you for sticking with me.
And here's what I'd like to share. During this uncertain time, adding in time for self-care can feel impossible. What I love about diaphragmatic breathing, which is also called abdominal breathing or deep belly breathing, is that it can be done anytime, anywhere and without preparation or materials. It can also be as fast as taking one deep breath before we go through some techniques. I want to share some of the science behind diaphragmatic breathing. Research has shown that taking deep belly breaths can have a positive impact on many body systems.
It calms the nervous system, slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces cortisol the stress chemical and improves attention and concentration. For most of us, all of these areas are being challenged right now. In a moment, I'll be walking us through a deep breathing techniques, but it's important to realize there are many ways to practice deep breathing. It can be done while sitting, laying down with your eyes open or closed. There are different lengths of inhalations, exhalations, and with addition or exclusion of holds a breath.
First, without changing anything, I want you to notice your regular breathing patterns. Generally, we breathe in a shallow manner when we're stressed. We often shift from a nose, breathing to mouth breathing for deep breathing. One very important factor is to always breathe in through your nose. Some people find it more relaxing to breathe, to exhale through their mouth. And some people prefer to exhale through your nose. Either of those are fine as long as your inhalation is through your nose.
So when we take our deep belly breath, we'll be filling up our lungs in their entirety, which pushes down your diaphragm, sitting under your rib cage and causes the abdomen to expand. So while we're going to practice, we're going to place one hand on our chest and one hand on our abdomen. Our goal is to make the hand on our abdomen. Get pushed out and the hand on our chest to stay generally still when we breathe in together, we're going to inhale for a count of four and we're going to exhale for a count of seven.
So we're going to go now and two, three, four and exhale. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, so again, we'll practice two more times, inhaling for, accounted for, making sure our breath, if we're noticing our our hand and our shoulders are increasing as we breathe like this. We want to try and shift the air pattern to our abdomen, pushing in and out. So again. 2, 3, 4 and out 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 7 There are many other patterns of breathing. Some people prefer what's called square breathing, which is an inhalation for a count of four, a hold for account for an exhalation for accounted for and a hold for accounted for. There are also many online Web sites and apps that can guide you through different breathing patterns, using different visuals and even guided audio to help you practice.
And the best part now is now that you've practiced, you're equipped to teach your kids. Now I know depending on your child, some may be more open than others, but you can, even if your child is not open to practicing with you. You can model using this strategy at a time of stress. And in our practice with Churchill at Churchill, we use many different techniques to make it more fun. One thing we often do is use visuals and imagination.
So I often use bubbles, which would take when we are taking a deep breath in and you're trying to control the slow exhalation out. The bigger the bubble that you and your child make, the slower the exhalation and you can make it into a game to see who can make the biggest bubble. There's also many other strategies you can use your imagination and your pretending to smell something you enjoy, like a flower blowing out a birthday candle which younger kids tend to enjoy.
If you have a Hoberman sphere using the sphere for an inhalation count and an exclamation count, there are also many other videos and visuals that you can use with younger and even older children. One web site that I found that has compiled a lot of the techniques that I I enjoy is called Coping Skills for Kids WSJ.com. They have a deep breathing exercises page where you'll find videos and other visuals to help you and your child do this together. So now I encourage you to continue trying this technique.
I hope that you found a moment of relaxation that you can take with you for the rest of your day. Take care.
Dr. Orit Goldhammer
Middle School Psychologist
Director of Clinical Support