Yesterday I promised I’d post a bit about Deep Breathing and Grounding. The first part is something I’ve talked to many students about and we’ve practiced a few different ways to settle ourselves down. There are LOTS of different ways to do deep breathing and different names and techniques. Sometimes it’s called the Hot Chocolate breath – you take a deep, slow breath in through your nose (smelling the hot chocolate) and then a slow even breath out through your mouth (cooling off the hot chocolate). I like that one because I like hot chocolate!
Sometimes it’s called square breathing – you breathe in as you go up one side of the square, hold your breath for the next side, then imagine going down the other side and letting your breath out, then hold again for the last side…then repeat.
Other names are belly breathing, figure 8 breathing, star breathing etc. etc. etc. It all amounts to the same thing, which is slowing down your breathing, paying close attention to relaxing your muscles and breathing deep into your belly – and all of this helps us to calm ourselves, relax and think more clearly.
When we are in the middle of an anxiety or panic attack, or we are just so overwhelmed we feel like we have lost control, “our upstairs brain” – the part responsible for thinking and being in control – disconnects from our “downstairs brain” – the part that helps us to know if we are in danger (flight, fight or freeze)…and we kinda do lose control. We might yell, cry a lot, curl up on the floor and just try to hide away. Grounding exercises help us in that moment when we are losing it. When we intentionally bring our minds and bodies back to the present moment, we can often give our brains the time and space they need to “reconnect” the upstairs and downstairs parts, and we can hopefully function better again. Here are some very simple exercises that you can do. You just repeat these until you feel more in control and rational again.