Focusing your attention on your breathing is the easiest exercise to perform when developing more mindfulness in your daily life.
Doing it regularly will help you deal with difficult situations a lot easier.
B is for Breathe
It’s easier than you think and it is very good practice to do this breathing exercise when starting out for at least three minutes a day.
Once you get comfortable with it, it’s recommended that you set aside 15 minutes to practice.
Use your mobile phone to set a daily reminder to practice and set a timer so that you know when your allotted time is complete.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with the soles of your feet on the floor
- Let your shoulders drop and straighten your back so that you’re sitting tall, but feeling relaxed
- Rest your hands on your lap and gently close your eyes
- Gently notice how your body feels as you start to pay attention to your breathing. If you notice any aches and pains, simply acknowledge them and start to focus on your breath
- You don’t need to breathe in a special way
- Notice the flow of breath in and out, the rise of your stomach with each inhale and exhale
- If you notice your attention becoming caught up in thought, just bring your focus back to your breathing. It’s normal that your mind may wonder, but never be judgemental or harsh on yourself for thinking, after all it is natural
- When you’re ready, gently open your eyes and bring your attention back to your other senses. Feel your feet connected to the floor, start listening to sounds around you and take the time to relax more deeply and appreciate taking time out for yourself
Breathing when stressed
Taking the time to stop and focus on your breathing will also assist in calming you down if you’re feeling overwhelmed and it will allow you to be in the present moment. We often react out of character when we’re emotionally charged or stressed and doing the exercise below when in a stressful situation will help to calm us down and react more accordingly.
- Stand still and focus your attention on your body, feel your feet connected to the floor
- Take in an exaggerated breath by inhaling through your nostrils whilst counting three seconds
- Hold your breath for 2 seconds
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for about 4 seconds
- Observe how your body feels whilst breathing, the rise and fall of your chest, shoulders or stomach
- Again, if you find your thoughts racing or feeling sensations in your body, don’t be judgemental, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing
- When you’re ready, take a minute to bring your breathing back to normal and relax
There are times when we struggle with falling asleep due to thoughts racing through our mind, but if you focus on your breathing, it can help relax you whilst you fall asleep.
Please try it and let me know how you get on.
- While lying downing in a comfortable position, notice how your bed supports your body and makes you feel safe
- Focus your attention on your breathing, how your stomach or chest gently rises on each inhale and how your body relaxes and frees all tension on each exhale
- If distracted by thoughts, again don’t be judgemental as it is normal to be distracted, just gently bring your attention back to your breath
- This should relax you enough to drift off peacefully
Please note that I don’t have any qualifications to manage your mental health and I can only offer you general advice from my own experiences. Please consult your GP if you’re struggling with your mental health as they will get you the help you need.