Dec 1, 2019

Box breathing for festive calm

So it's December, again. I'm honestly not sure where 2019 went but I guess I say the same thing every year! This time of year can be full of joy, kindness and fun. At times, it can also be stressful and emotions can often run high. Throw into into the mix things like a stressful job, tricky family dynamics, or going through difficult personal circumstances, and the festive period can feel like a bit of a challenge.

Breathing techniques help slow everything down, get oxygen into all the cells of our body, and calm our fight or flight stress response, which doesn't always serve us well. When we're anxious or wound up, we can often do or say things that we later regret. When we learn ways to keep calm and breathe, we can avoid negative responses and knee-jerk reactions. Building in time for calm is a self-care essential, and is super important at a time of year when we're often feeling like we're running around in circles.

If you need to calm yourself down, or buy some time before you respond to something (or someone) this festive season, a simple, effective and easy to visualise technique I use is called box breathing. 

Box breathing exercise: Imagine your breath following the four sides of a box. Visualise starting in the bottom left hand corner:⁠

  1. Take a deep belly breath in, filling up your lungs for a count of four, up to the top left corner of the box.⁠
  2. Hold your breath for four, as you move along the top edge to the top right corner of the box. ⁠
  3. Release your breath slowly over a count of four, down to the bottom right corner of the box.⁠
  4. Pause for four, as you move along the bottom edge of the box, right back to where you started.⁠

Why not practise this technique right now, so it's familiar to you when you might need it? In the moment, repeat as many times as you need to. Honestly, even after two or three rounds of box breathing, I promise you'll feel calmer and more grounded. 

Wishing you a wonderfully calm and joyful festive season, and a very happy and healthy 2020! x

image: boxbreathing.jpg

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