Have you ever been in the midst of experiencing stress and had someone say “just take a deep breath”. Maybe you’ve even said it to your kids. But why does everyone say that? Let me explain why deep breathing is so important.
When you are calm, your body is in what is known as “rest and digest” mode. Your breathing is normal, your muscles are relaxed and your heart rate is normal.
When you experience a stressful event (like a dinosaur chasing you) your body automatically goes into what is known as “flight, fight or freeze” mode. Your heart rate increases, your stomach stops digestion and your breathing becomes more shallow.
The goal of calming exercises is to get yourself from “flight, fight or freeze” mode back to “rest and digest” mode. Deep breathing helps get more oxygen into your bloodstream, opening up your capillaries. It has a physical effect on your body to help you calm down and lower stress.
There are lots of different ways to teach our kids how to take deep breaths. One of my favorite ways is using shapes. It’s a more playful way to help them keep track of their breathing and slow down. Here are four of my favorites:
Start at the bottom left of the triangle.
Breathe in for three counts as you trace the first side of the triangle.
Hold your breath for three counts as you trace the second side of the triangle.
Breathe out for three counts as you trace the final side of the triangle. You have just completed one deep breath.
Start at the bottom right of the square
Breathe in for four counts as you trace the first side of the square
Hold your breath for four counts as you trace the second side of the square
Breathe out for four counts as you trace the third side of the square
Hold your breath for four counts as you trace the final side of the square
You just completed one deep breath!
Start at any “Breathe In” side on the star.
Trace your finger over the breathe in side of the point
Hold your breath when your finger gets to the tip of the point
Breathe out as you trace your finger over the other side of the point.
Keep going until you reach where you started.
When you trace the whole star, you will have completed 5 deep breaths
LAZY 8 BREATHING
Start with the 8 on it’s side and start in the middle
Go up to the left and trace the left part of the 8 with your finger while you breathe in.
When you get to the middle of the 8 again, breathe out while you trace the right part of the 8 with your finger.
See the video of deep breathing shapes in action: