Let’s face it, babies can be stressful. Parenting can be stressful. Sleep coaching can be STRESSFUL! Many parents find themselves overtired and over-stressed. Have you ever noticed when you are stressed, your baby or toddler seems to pick up on it and starts acting out? We are very connected with our children and they are aware of our emotions. So by calming yourself down, you are, in turn, creating a calm atmosphere for your baby or toddler.
Think of it this way; stress is contagious and so is calmness. One of the simplest ways to help yourself calm down when dealing with a stressful situation, like sleep coaching, is through breathing. When I think of breathing and stress, to me they go hand in hand. Think about how you breathe when you are stressed (like when the baby will not stop crying, you are exhausted, and feeling like there is no end in sight) you will likely be taking fast shallow breaths. When you are calm and relaxed (like when the baby is finally asleep and you get a moment to yourself) you will take slow deep breaths. One of the fastest ways to calm yourself down in a stressful situation is to just… breathe. Sounds so simple, right? It is THAT simple, as you practice breathing yourself to calmness it will become more like second nature to you. But just like anything, it does take some practice and may be a little challenging at first.
Here are 3 simple breathing exercises anyone can do to help calm a stressful situation (these can be done with your eyes opened or closed):
Mindful Breathing Exercise #1 – Equal Breaths
This is the one I find myself doing most often. It’s very simple and works like this-
-Inhale through your nose to the slow count of 4
-Hold your breath for the count of 4
-Exhale through your mouth to the count of 4
Now if inhaling, holding, and exhaling to the count of 4 is too difficult when you first start, no worries! Just shorten the number, or even lengthen the number (as you get better) to a number that works for you! Maybe you will just start by inhaling to the count of 2, and that is completely fine, you will be gradually calming your breath down no matter what number you are counting to. As you breathe in and out you will find that you will naturally start calming down, just by mindful breathing. Repeat this breathing technique as much as you need to until you feel calm!
Mindful Breathing Exercise #2- Count Down Breaths
Simply start at the number 10 and take one full breath (in and out through your nose) with each number as you count down the number line. It will look like this-
10 – inhale and exhale
9 – inhale and exhale
8 – inhale and exhale
7 – inhale and exhale
And so on until you get to the number 0. As you go down the number line, your breaths should start to get slower and deeper and calmer. Once you get down to number 0, repeat your deep calm breaths as many times as you wish.
Mindful Breathing Exercise #3- Deep Belly Breaths
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. When you start, you will notice that most of your breath will be in your chest, and may be shallow. The goal of this breathing exercise is to send the breath down to your “belly” to create deep calming breaths. It will look like this-
Inhale through your nose, sending the breath to your chest, exhale through your nose
Inhale through your nose, sending the breath a little deeper to your lower rib cage, exhale through your nose
Inhale through your nose, sending the breath a little deeper to your belly (likely where your hand is), exhale through your nose
Once you get the breath to your belly, take several slow, deep, calming breaths, focusing only on breathing down to your “belly”. Take as many as you need to feel calm. Focus on the rise and fall of your belly, keeping the hand that is on your chest fairly still.
Now, if you are looking at these breathing exercises and thinking, there is just no way I can do these, I am TOO stressed when the baby won’t stop crying, it’s okay! Here is a very simple exercise to get you used to connecting with your breath (and maybe a little with your childhood!) – chew bubble gum… and blow bubbles. Sounds silly? Here’s the thought behind it- blowing bubbles slows your breath and will, in turn, help you connect with your breath and calm down. Just think, it’s really hard to blow a bubble when you are doing quick shallow breaths. You need to breathe deep, and slowly, to blow a bubble. So, give it a try. While you are sleep coaching, chew some bubble gum, blow a few bubbles and gradually start connecting with your breath!
Just like with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so be kind to yourself, start practicing and see how mindful breathing can help you get a little calmer. Would you like more information on other mindful ways to de-stress? In our Members Area, we have more information on getting more out of mindful breathing exercises and ways to care for yourself, which you can access instantly. And that’s not all – our Members Area is packed with additional premium content and resources: e-Books, assessments, more case studies, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And best of all, members receive 20% of all consultation services – that savings alone can actually pay for the cost of the membership!