Simple Breathing Exercises to Beat Back-to-School Anxiety
September 13, 2021, Publisher: Breath Hub
Regular breathwork practice is an excellent tool for beating anxiety, relieving stress and relaxing for kids as well as for adults. Whether your little one is beginning or going back to school, there is bound to be some nervousness accompanying all the excitement, especially during the COVID period we are in. Teaching breathing exercises to kids may help them gain composure, become more peaceful, more attentive, and more competent in emotional control.
Relaxing breathing exercises work by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system with the help of deep diaphragmatic breaths and long exhalations. Slow and deep breaths bring down the heart rate, blood pressure and induce a feeling of peace and calm.
This kind of breathing can be explained to kids through a number of games and techniques. Beginning from the age of 4, children can participate in breathing exercises with age-appropriate games and activities. At 6-7 years of age, kids start to have a much better grasp on breathwork. The following breathing games are suitable for all kindergarten and grade school students.
In each technique, make sure you are sitting comfortably with a straight back. Also, keep in mind that breathing through the nose and taking diaphragmatic breaths helps with relaxation. Try to repeat the exercises for 5-6 cycles. You can increase the duration as kids get the hang of breathwork and encourage them to practise on their own as well.
Here are seven breathing techniques to ease back-to-school anxiety and help kids relax. Parents, you’re welcome to try. In fact, practising together will be so much more enjoyable and effective!
The Starfish Breath
- By bringing together several senses, this technique helps focus on the breath rather than the anxious thoughts.
- Stretch out your arm and spread your fingers like a starfish.
- Take the pointer finger of your other hand and slowly trace up and down each finger.
- As you trace up the finger, breathe in through the nose, and as you trace down, breathe out through the nose, as slowly as possible.
- This technique can be practised by imagining a triangle, but you can also have your kids draw a triangle or give them a printout if you wish.
- Trace one side of the triangle as you breathe in through the nose for a count of three, hold your breath for a count of three and breathe out through the mouth for a count of three.
The Bunny Breath
- Animal breaths are particularly fun for younger kids.
- Take three quick sniffs through the nose, followed by one long exhalation through the nose.
- Gradually making the exhalation longer will help with relaxation.
The Snake Breath
- Inhale slowly through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth with a long hissing sound.
- The idea is to make the exhalation as long as possible, so it may be fun to have a contest to see who can hiss the longest.
Blow Out the Candle
- Imagine a marvellous birthday cake with lots and lots of candles on it.
- Inhale through the nose and slowly exhale through pursed lips to blow out all candles.
- Clinically tested by Stephen Elliot, the creator of the coherent breathing technique, this method is recommended by psychologists and psychiatrists. In addition to relieving anxiety, it helps kids transition to sleep.
- Imagine a magical ball that grows with each inhalation. Get creative and colour your ball in any way you choose.
- Inhale for a count of five through the nose and exhale for a count of five through the nose.
- Each time the ball gets a little bit bigger. And when the ball gets large enough, you can put all your worries and anxieties in it and let the ball float up to the sky.
- Swing breath is another balance breathing technique where inhalations and exhalations are of equal length.
- Imagine that you are on a swing. With each inhalation, the swing goes up, and with each exhalation, the swing comes down.
- Continue breathing in and out rhythmically, paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly.
- You can find many breathing sessions on Breath Hub Kids specifically designed for children. We invite kids to go on a breathing journey in various categories such as breath tales, relaxation and calmness, overcoming exam stress, concentration, and health. There are so many surprises along the way on this journey! Rabbits, bees, lions, fairies, balloons, colourful rainbows and many others accompany the breathwork practices. There are also games like breath tests and breath experiments you can play as a family.
You can find more on the benefits of breathwork for kids and teens here.