Turning a reaction into a response using your breath can be game changer!
My kids returned to university and school this week. And it started to rain. If it wasn’t for the fact I heard a forecast overnight low of 22 degrees tonight I could be excused for thinking summer had ended!
The first week of February often reminds me of the year I had 5 kids at 5 different schools. Almost the definition of insanity.
Well the school notices were piling high. Donations, stationery lists, uniform requirements, meet the teacher dates, risk forms, school camp notices….can you imagine!?
My youngest daughter comes skipping in, beside herself with joy because this was the year she finally gets to go on the Year 6 school camp. Her excitement was tangible!
Meanwhile, I’m working to several deadlines, multitasking at the kitchen bench, dull and frazzled. In my defence I was working at the kitchen table in an attempt to ‘be there’ when they all got home from school. Let’s just say I was the opposite of bright and shiny.
(which is what multitasking will do to you by the way – take away your shine! That’s for another day!)
My daughter waves the school camp notice under my nose, jumping up and down as she does so.
I turn my head from the laptop to look at her face. This is the 17th school notice I’ve had this week. What is she thinking!?
I start to open my mouth…. I’m expecting words to come tumbling out of my mouth like
“For goodness sakes, stop jumping, just stick the notice down there with the rest of them and I’ll sort it out later”
That response would have certainly made sense (to me!) given how I was feeling. But would have made me feel like s#*t afterwards! Instead of saying this though, I really looked at her. At the sparkle in her face.
How was she to know I was suffering from school-notice-overwhelm?
How was she to know I had deadlines?
How was she to know what it was like to be an adult?
As my mouth opened, rather than spit out the reaction I thought I could have justified, I took one long deep breath.
I watched my daughter’s eyes grow wide with wonder. Was she wondering if my head was actually going to blow off my shoulders this time?
As I exhaled my breath, I felt this wash of calm and compassion come over me.
And I said “I’m so excited for you darling, why don’t you pop your notice in the pile, and after dinner you and I can look at your notices and make sure you’ve got everything you need for school tomorrow”.
With that said, she gave me a quick hug and skipped off to fridge-gaze (popular after school past time of all my kids!).
I was shocked – at myself. And shocked at how easy it was. It has become one of my proudest parenting moments.
What it shows is how powerful just one deep breath can be. So powerful it can shift you
FROM fight and flight (stress response, hardly what's required to deal with a Year 6 child!!)
TO rest and digest (the state our nervous system is designed to be in unless there's a physical emergency).
And this shift ensures you ‘respond’ rather than react. It literally switches off the desire to snap and switches on compassion, calm and consideration.
What an amazing tool right?
ANd te best news: It's Free. Legal. And right under your nose.
So my February gift to you is HOW TO USE this free, legal tool so you can calm the farm and cool 'emotional' temperatures precisely when you need to!
TOOL: How to Breathe to Induce a Calm Response
Here are three breathing techniques to help shift you from fight & flight (reaction) to rest & digest (response)
2x breath. Inhale for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 6. Repeat a few times then inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 8. The extended exhale soothes your vagus nerve which connects your mind and body and calms your nervous system.
Triangle. Imagine a triangle. Inhale as you go up one side of the triangle, hold your breath inside your lungs as you imagine sliding down the other side, then exhale as you compete the bottom of the triangle. Holding your breath with full lungs is a calming breath (PS - holding your breath on empty lungs is an energising breath)
Short of Time? And no time for 2x or triangles? SIMPLY take a one long breath in and out, as I did with my youngest daughter. Even this will make the difference between a reaction and a response.
Yes it takes practice and that’s where mindfulness can help!
If you often find yourself feeling pretty awful about the way you’ve reacted to your kids, to your partner or to a work colleague…
If you’re finding that your reactions are causing volatile reactions in those around you….
And if you’d like the ‘temperature’ in your head, your home or your workplace to change, without having to run away from home or quit your job...
These are some of the things I can help you with. Book a free call with me to discuss what's going on for you and what you need. Because becoming calm, mindful and compassionate doesn’t need to be hard.
In the meantime, if you’re in the Waikato, do whatever it takes to cool your head and your home tonight – we’re in for a hot humid one folks!!