July 2023

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Summer is a time families can enjoy quality time together; BBQ’s, adventures and it can also come with a lot of stress for busy working parents trying to juggle it all. Which means we can be wrapped in chaos and forget to take a moment to breathe…and enjoy all the fun!

Most of us on average spend over six hours per day on technology devices. In order to lead by example, we parents need to work on limiting our screen time so we can support our kids doing the same. In addition to that, focus on one of the simplest ways we can calm our stress.

What if there was a way to manage that stress in a matter of minutes? In recent years a phenomenal wellness modality has become very popular and with great reason. The best part – it is FREE! And we ALL have access to it. Can you guess what this is? BREATHWORK.

Yup – that’s correct, we can change from a stress state to a calm state in a matter of minutes when focusing on conscious breathing. And the more we raise awareness to our breathing patterns, the easier it is to regulate our nervous system. (Even on a busy summer vacay.)

Breathing is part of our autonomic nervous system, meaning we breathe all day long, whether we are aware of it or not. It is imperative for keeping our body functioning and we take roughly 20,000 breaths per day.

According to a recent study at Stanford University, Dr. Andrew Huberman describes a simple breathwork technique as a “kill switch for stress”.

What is breathwork?
Breathwork is a technique used to help with mental, spiritual and physical health. It involves regulating breathing patterns and changing to regulate our nervous system. There are a number of benefits in using breathing exercises and the two most popular are lower stress and anxiety.

When we inhale we are contracting parts of our body and it is activating. When we exhale, we are relaxing and activating a calming sense. The most simple breathing technique is to inhale and as you exhale extend the length of the exhale to fully activate the parasympathetic, AKA rest and digest part of our nervous system.

Here are two other simple breathwork practices you can include in your day in under five minutes to activate calm and feel more present:

4-7-8 breath. Dr. Andrew Weil made this breathwork modality popular and it includes breathing in through the nose for a count of 4, holding breath for 7 seconds and then releasing through pursed lips for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle four times and watch yourself instantly calm down

Box breathing is another method that is very simple and effective. Inhale through the nose for count of four, hold four seconds, exhale four seconds and hold four seconds. Repeat this cycle 4-8 times and focus on how present you feel after.

Breathwork is nothing NEW, but it is rapidly growing in popularity due to the high stress, cortisol, go-go-go lifestyle many of us are living in today’s society.

Controlled breathing can lower blood pressure, reduces levels of stress hormones in the blood and can give us an almost immediate sense of inner peace.

If you don’t yet have a breathwork practice built into your life, no better time than right now to get started.

Best part
It is something you can do with the entire family. When anyone feels stress or tension in my house, we use the word PINEAPPLE as a reminder to focus on three deep breaths to calm our nervous system and guess what? It works!

Instead of rushing through the summer packing all the things in and ending up feeling like you are going through the motions, why not give breathwork a try!!

Once you’ve explored some of the basic breathing exercises and want to deepen your practice, you can learn deeper breathing styles with a trained breathwork facilitator.

Jaime McFaden is an international self-care specialist focusing on raising awareness of what self-care really means. She is a best-selling author of WAVES of Self-Care: It Takes a Village, and works with busy burnt out mamas supporting them on sustainable self-care. Host of Self-Care secrets podcast. In her free time she spends time with her family playing at the beach. You can connect with her on social media @jaimemcfaden or jaimemcfaden.com

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