GLOW Welcomes Clinical Psychologist Anthony Mackie
Anthony joins GLOW as a father specialist supporting fathers in their transition to parenthood and shares with us a simple but effective way to bring calm to any moment.
Using the breath to calm the mind
In the increasingly fasted pace modern lives we live, having the skills to calm you mind and body is essential. It is a fantastic skill for parents allowing you to respond rather than react to the myriad of challenges that parenting brings.
Did you know that slow breathing can promote feelings of calm?
Slowing down your breathing sends a message to your brain that it is safe to relax. This can help us to create a quiet and restful moment in our day, or support us through an anxious moment.
Two of my favorite breathing techniques are 4-4 breathing and Belly breathing.
Simply count slowly from 1 to 4 during the 'in' breath, and then 1 to 4 during the 'out' breath. Make sure you completely empty your lungs when you exhale, and breathe through your nose if you can.
Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. As you breathe (using the 4-4 method described above), try to ensure that the hand on your belly moves more than the hand on your chest. This will encourage you to breathe into the bottom half of your lungs, and help to slow down your breathing.
- As you breathe, allow your attention to rest on the sensations in your body that go along with breathing (for example the feeling of your ribs expanding and contracting, or the sensation of air-flowing through your nostrils). This can help to give your mind a break from thinking so much!
- Close your eyes. If closing your eyes makes you feel more anxious, allow your gaze to rest on a single point, with your eyes slightly lowered.
- In the beginning, it is best to practice in situations that are quiet and free of distraction. It is also good to practice at a time when you are already feeling somewhat relaxed. The goal here is simply to experience a feeling of calm. As you gain more experience, you can then apply slow breathing to help you calm down when you are feeling anxious, or help you get through a stressful moment.
And the best part? Wherever you are and whatever situation you face, your breath is always with you. So you simply need to focus on the breath to bring calm to your mind and body.