This is one of the most valuable and versatile tools for helping to maintain or regain balance in a stressful or anxious situation. It should be the most practiced tool and can be used in almost any scenario.
What is Belly Breathing?
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as "belly breathing," is a type of deep breathing that engages the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs fully.
Why perform Belly Breathing?
This type of breathing can be helpful for managing stress and anxiety because it stimulates the body's relaxation response (activates the parasympathetic nervous system) to counteract the effects of the "fight or flight” response that is activated during stressful or anxious situations.
When we breathe deeply and slowly, it slows the rate the heart is beating and sends a signal to the brain to calm down and relax. Additionally, diaphragmatic breathing can increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and tension. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing regularly can help to reduce stress and anxiety over time.
How to Belly Breathe
1. Find a comfortable position and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
2. Begin by taking a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you inhale. Your hand on your belly should move outwards while the hand on your chest should move very little.
3. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall as you release the breath.
4. Repeat this process focusing on the movement of your diaphragm.
5. As you breathe, slow down the pace and lengthen the duration of your inhale and exhale to a pace of about one breath every 10 seconds.
It's important to note that, at first, it may take some time to get used to diaphragmatic breathing, and it may feel unnatural. But with practice, it will become more comfortable and automatic, and can be used as a tool to manage stress and anxiety in the moment.
Nature is one of the most multisensory physical experiences that can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. It can be experienced in many ways. While it’s most commonly thought of as an outdoor encounter, it can also be experienced indoors.
What is a Nature Experience?
Being in nature is a multisensory and physical experience that can help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote relaxation. Even just viewing scenes of nature, listening to nature sounds, or smelling pleasant nature scents can provide similar results.
Why have a Nature Experience?
Nature has a positive impact for several reasons:
Soothing sensory input: The sights, sounds, and smells of nature can be calming and help to distract from stressful or anxious thoughts and sensations.
Spending time in nature has been shown to lower cortisol levels, reducing the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood, increase feelings of vitality, and boost overall well-being.
Engaging in activities in nature, such as hiking or gardening, can promote mindfulness and a sense of being in the present moment.
How to Have a
1. Go outside for a brief nature walk or sit down and relax. Use as many senses as possible to optimize your results.
2. Look at, touch, or smell indoor plants. Watering and caring for them can be part of a healthy routine.
3. If you are unable to go outside, or do not have access to plants indoors, you can view green nature images such as the video below.
As with most of the Real-Time Tools, a nature experience is easily combined with a breathing exercise. If you can, incorporate Belly Breathing into an extended Nature Experience.
Humming is a simple and effective technique that can be used to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety or stress.
When we hum, we create a vibration in the body that can stimulate the vagus nerve, a key component of the PNS.
The vagus nerve controls many important bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate. When the vagus nerve is activated, it can help to lower heart rate, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.
Researchers have found that humming can increase heart rate variability, which is an indicator of PNS activity.
Humming can also help to regulate breathing, which is another way that it can activate the PNS. When we hum, we naturally breathe in a controlled and rhythmic way, which can help to slow down the respiratory rate and promote relaxation.
Ask the child to take a deep breath in through their nose and then exhale while making a humming sound like a bee.
*Great for younger children
How to Hum
1. Begin to make a humming sound by exhaling through your nose with your lips slightly closed with your tongue resting
gently on the roof of your mouth.
2. Try to make the humming sound as continuous and smooth as possible, without stopping or changing pitch. Experiment with different pitches and tones until you find what is comfortable for you.
3. Notice the vibrations in your face, neck, and chest and continue for as long as it feels comfortable for you.
4. Volume is not important. Even a barely audible sound gives you the same effect.
Everyone's experience with humming for relaxation may be different, so it's important to experiment and find what works best for you. Humming can be done anytime and anywhere, so it can be a useful tool to help you feel more relaxed and calm throughout the day.