Take 5 and Breathe

The festive season is in full swing and the New Year is on the horizon. It’s a time many of us start to reflect upon the last 12 months and plan ahead for a fresh start next year.  Celebrations, unexpected events and increased social interactions can create a busy and exciting time for children and adults alike, but it can also trigger overwhelm, stress and anxiety. This is where mindful breathing can help.

To keep calm and focus on the present moment, the Take 5 Breathing method is a simple and tactile activity to self-regulate and breathe mindfully, whilst balancing emotions and letting go of stress. Take 5 Breathing has also been featured as a mindfulness activity in my book, ‘Mindful Little Yogis. Here’s how to do it:

  • Spread out the fingers of one hand into a star shape.
  • Bring this hand to eye level with the palm facing you.
  • Gently place the pointy (index) finger of the other hand onto one side of the open hand.
  • Breathe in slowly through the nose as the pointy finger gently moves up and traces along the edge of the first finger or thumb of the open hand.
  • thumbnailBreathe out slowly through the nose as the pointy finger traces down the inside edge of the first finger or thumb.
  • Continue to breathe in every time the pointy finger traces and moves up the side of a finger, and breathe out every time the pointy finger moves down.
  • When the finger reaches the other side of the wrist, pause for a moment to notice how you are feeling, and if any emotions come up.
  • Continue to deeply breathe in and out, then change direction with the pointy finger going back the other way.
  • After a few breathing rounds feel free to practice exhaling through the mouth each time (optional).

Young children or anyone sensitive to touch, may prefer the sensation of tracing a feather or other soft objects around the hand. Alternatively, place one hand down flat on a piece of paper to create a hand print to draw around, then follow the breathing instructions above.

I hope this calming strategy inspires you to take five and breathe whenever you need to mindfully connect to the breath, particularly during busy times. Encourage your kids to do the same by experiencing first-hand the power of conscious breathing.

Lastly, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a fun and peaceful festive season, and a very happy New Year!

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