Self Care

How To Use Square Breathing to Clear Your Racing Mind...

We tend to make better decisions when we're calm.
If your mind is racing, you can't sleep or if you just need a way to relax and get centered, pause whatever it is you are doing and learn about Square Breathing.

Square breathing is a powerful exercise that divides your breath into four equal parts: inhalation, holding the breath, exhalation, and then waiting without breathing. If you have high blood pressure, please check with your doctor before performing this exercise.

This exercise is one of the most powerful breathing exercises I've experienced. It is my daily go to exercise for quickly and deeply relaxing my entire system. I personally do this one nightly as preparation for deep sleep.  

To perform this exercise you will do each of the four parts inhale hold, exhale, and wait for four seconds each. It bears repeating that if you feel dizzy to stop the exercise and breathe normally. This exercise is not meant as a competition to see who can endure the longest. Typically you will begin feeling the effect of this exercise after two or three cycles.

  1. Inhale to a count of four seconds

  2. Hold your breath for four seconds

  3. Exhale for four seconds

  4. Wait without breathing for four seconds

  5. Repeat as long as it feels comfortable to do so

Over time, as you build your lung capacity, you can experiment with increasing the number of seconds on each of the four sides of the breath. To do this, start by having one second on each of the four parts and then see how it feels. Everyone has their own comfort level and lung capacity. It is important to not overextend to the point of discomfort as you can cause yourself to pass out and risk injury.

You might consider this particular exercise to be one that you can lean into when you are experiencing the toughest of times like personal crisis, pre-and post surgery or any high intensity situation.

Breath is life. It is your built in regulator for how you experience the moment you are in. Anytime you feel out of balance, stressed out, or unclear, your body is giving you the signal to begin adjusting your breath. It is up to you whether you pay attention to the signals or not. By being a self-aware, and willing to adjust how you feel with an exercise like breathing, you no longer need to endure needless suffering. Taking care of yourself in this way gives you the power to act preemptively and deliberately so that you can be in the best state of mind to enjoy the moment you are in.

Sharing is caring. Do you know someone who could benefit from this exercise? Share it with them!

6 Ideas for Managing Great Intensity

Regardless of your political beliefs, we've woken up in a reality where some people (including kids & teens) are experiencing what I judge as a trauma-level response to the election and it's aftermath. I liken it to how one might feel and react if someone close died unexpectedly- shock, disbelief, anger, unwillingness to accept, grief-level sadness, and despondence.

Though we cannot control world events, there is much we can do in our immediate environments. To that end, I'd like to offer you the following ideas:

1. Be easy on yourself. 
If you or those around you are experiencing any of the challenges above, treat yourself / them as you might if someone close to you died unexpectedly. Offer that level of leeway, compassion and patience.

2. Listen.
As you are able, take the time to listen to those around you and witness them as they work through their feelings around this experience.

3. Get together.
Set up opportunities to be with one another and connect. Reach out to those who tend to isolate themselves and invite them.

4. Lean into your coping skills. 
Do your best to stay grounded if/when you feel afraid. Teach others how to do simple techniques like square breathing to help them do the same. (Breathe in for 4 seconds, Hold breathe for 4 seconds, Exhale for 4 seconds, wait for 4 seconds. Repeat till calm and as often as you need to)

5. Spend time in nature.
Walk slowly outside, near trees and/or water if you can. Walk and breathe slowly. Hang out with your pets.

6. Do your self-care.
Lessen suffering by doing things you can control that you know help you feel healthy- diet, exercise, pray/meditate, reading, creative expression. Resist the urge to cover the intensity with substances and distraction. Resist the urge to blame and to succumb to hate.

Blessings. Jim Donovan (Feel free to share as you like)