5 Finger Breathing
Hi there! So for this strategy, it's a really, really simple breathing strategy that concentrates on the concept of practice. So it's not magical. It's not suddenly going to make everything go away that's stressing you out or that's giving you that anxious overwhelming feeling. It's important too with this one that knowing this information is not enough. It's one again that goes back to that concept of practice. The more you do it, the more it's going to help you. And I I say this from personal experience. This is one that I practice often, and the more I've done it the more it helps me. But it's wonderful because it works really well for all ages. It actually started being practiced with younger younger children, but they realized that there are great benefits for adults too. So, more and more people are suggesting that adults do it.
The other great part of it too is that it can be done really discreetly. So if you're starting to feel those kind of anxious feelings when you're in a meeting, on a zoom maybe, or more in your personal life. If you're right before a doctor's appointment (that's when I personally used it before) in a waiting room you're feeling nervous. You can do it without drawing attention to yourself. As a teacher I've taught it to my students to do it right before a test or if they're in the middle of a classroom and they don't want to have all of their classmates looking at them. When they're starting to feel anxious they can do it at their desk without anybody realizing that they're doing it. So I love it because again it can be discreet.
It's a really, really great strategy to use too when you first start feeling those anxious feelings. Whether the physical anxious feelings are that gut feeling that you get. For me, I get it in my stomach. Some people feel it in their chest, or they get it in their fingertips. Or they get that tapping feeling in their feet. For other people, it's more of the mental part. The “what if” worry thoughts start overwhelming them. And sometimes it's that combination as well.
So when you start feeling those build, this is a great strategy to use. The reason it's such a great strategy is because your brain can only process so much at one time. This concept actually tricks your brain, and it tricks it by using your breath and physical touch at the same time. That's the reason I actually like this one so much. I'm a big believer in using box breathing - the four count in, four count out. That works a lot. But for some people it's just not quite enough because it's not tricking your brain enough. This one tricks it by adding the physical touch as well.
So what we're actually going to do is called “five finger breathing.” I'm going to hold my hand up but again you don't have to when you're actively doing it in your own time. When you hold your hand up you're going to take the index finger of your other hand and you're going to trace your hand. As you're doing that you're going to inhale on the up and exhale on the down. You can do it at your own pace too. So if you need to go slower you can go slower; if you want to go a little faster you can. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, and then reverse.
And that's it! You only have to do that for about a minute, maybe two, and it works. And the reason again it works is because your worry thought stops for that period of time. One of a couple things is going to happen in that timeframe. You realize that whatever was causing the worry to begin with isn't really worth that kind of energy and you can just let it go. Other times you realize, “it is worth my energy. I cannot let that thing go.” But now your reasoning can kick in because you've calmed down enough that your reasoning brain can actually kick in. You can think it through. So, now rather than just reacting in panic mode, you've calmly approached the situation, and you can reset, reboot, and calmly think through. Again reason through it and really be your best self thinking through and be proud of whatever decision that you make rather than just react, panic and go. While you still may be feeling those feelings that you felt before. So again, really simple, all ages can benefit. I have actually had colleagues who have taught their spouses, their significant others, their children at home this strategy. I use it myself in my everyday life when I get those feelings right before major appointments. I've taught my little ones as well. I hope that you practice it and keep doing it. It's not going to just make it go away, but it does definitely help you calmly approach the situation. And a lot of times just let it go so that you can be your best self. You've got this! Have a great day!