12 April, 2011

4 Square Breathing Technique

One of my goals in my life is to find the calm within the storm. There are always challenges in my life where I become stressed, or anxious, but I always look to find a way to bring myself back to calmness as soon as possible.  Staying mentally and emotionally calm allows me to think clearly and rationally.   I find this especially true when parenting.  There seems to be a direct correlation between my children’s calm state of mind and mine.  If I am stressed out and anxious, my children pick up on this feeling and convey it in their own way.  When I am calm, my children are much more calm and in control of their actions and emotions.

This morning, I was suddenly reminded to use my 4 square breathing technique to help bring calm myself, which in turn, helped my children calm down. 

Emma fell down the stairs (second floor to first floor) and took her brother, Liam, down with her, while Owen was eating.  As a result, Emma and Liam both started crying from the fall.  I immediately went into emergency mode!   I stopped feeding Owen and ran to the stairs to check on Emma and Liam. 

Liam – he was crying “Emma Emma Emma Emma” – which meant he was ok. 
Emma – she was wailing, so scared and hurt by the fall.
Owen – he started crying because he was hungry and wanted food! 
Me – I was terrified that Emma had been hurt by the fall and stressed with all three children crying.

As I moved the children into the living room, I sat both Emma and Liam on my lap and we started reading a book while they were whimpering, all the while running my hand gently over Emma to see if there were any tender spots on her body to be concerned about.  While I was doing this, I remembered that I needed to calm myself down, which in turn would help calm the children down.  So, I started 4 square breathing with the kids sitting on my lap.  Immediately, I felt calmness settle into my body, mind and emotions.  In addition, the kids started to calm down. 

Emma and Liam were both fine and Owen was wonderful after he finished his meal.  All was well, and, it was a wonderful reminder to breathe through the stress.

Breath is one of the most effective ways to calm down and allow for clear thinking.   By controlling the intake and outtake of your breath, you begin to calm the majority of your body and emotions.

The 4 Square Breathing Technique is done as follows:

       1.     Inhale for a count of 4.
       2.     Hold your breath for a count of 4.
       3.     Exhale for a count of 4.
       4.     Hold the exhale for a count of 4.
       5.     Repeat at least 3 more times (or as many times as you would like.)  
               (Inhale 2, 3, 4. Hold 2, 3, 4.  Exhale 2, 3, 4.  Hold 2, 3, 4.)

If you cannot do this for a count of 4, simply use a count that works for you, such as 2 or 6.  Just keep the count consistent for the entire process.  (2 in, hold 2, 2 out, hold 2, etc.) 

This is a wonderful technique to use when parenting to help keep you calm, which in turns helps to keep the entire household and family members calm. 

We all have different methods of calming ourselves.  If you have a method for calming down during stressful situations, please share your experience.  It would be wonderful to learn of different ways we keep ourselves calm.


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