Guided breath practice can be a really resourceful way to calm your mind & body.
These practices are designed to help you get in touch with your own breath & body. You may find they are too fast, or too slow. Perhaps you have a natural exhalation that is longer than your inhale. Maybe you find you inhale for longer than you exhale. Or you might be someone who has even breath in and then out.
Use these recordings as a starting point to find the best rhythm for YOUR body. You can always count your own breaths. You can make the inhale/exhale longer or shorter. Perhaps you will increase the count over your 5 minute breath practice as your body slows down. Let your body guide you.
There are 3 different tracks here to allow you to find the right rhythm for you. I suggest finding a breath that is comfortable for you however you are feeling in that moment. That is, don't try or force yourself to breathe a lot slower than you already are. Don't try or force yourself to pick up where you left off last time. Your body will be different every time. You can, of course, also count your own breaths at a pace that you enjoy. You may find it comfortable to slow it down over the course of your practice.
Being well hydrated is critical for brain function and for regulating emotional state.
In fact, cognitive function and response times for dehydrated drivers has been shown in studies to be similar to performance while at the legal limit for blood alcohol content! Dehydration increases your sensitivity to physical and emotional pain, and negatively impacts memory.
I have included drinking in this First Aid Guide, because it is such a simple action to take. When you feel like your resilience is low, or your mood is getting the better of you, a glass of water or two can very quickly redress that balance.
Drink a glass of water, or up to a litre if you are feeling thirsty.
Mint, lime, or another garnish is lovely. If you have been sweating, adding some electrolytes (not a sugary drink), or try a coconut water.
Make a cup of tea, then set a timer for 5 minutes and sit somewhere quietly while you drink it.
If you are dehydrated, then replace black tea with a non-caffeinated herbal tea. I love to make an infusion using rosemary, sage, or another fragrant herb from the garden or fridge.
Hydrate your skin with a spray of scented mist.
You can very easily make your own by adding some herbs or flowers to water in a mister. You could also use a drop of your favourite scented oil. For extra loveliness on a hot day - keep it in the fridge!
There are two different approaches that we can take to calm our nervous system - a 'top down' approach, or 'bottom up'. Top Down refers to using our cognitive skills, our 'mind' to think our way through things and calm our body. Bottom Up describes an approach that begins in our body to create resolution of issues, and then our mind follows.
Bottom Up methods are the most powerful and easy to access in times of stress when our 'thinking mind' is offline or down regulated. Moving in particular ways can quickly let your body know "I am safe. I can relax". Here are some super simple ways to soothe your nervous system and relieve stress.
Choose a favourite song and dance to it.
Even if you don't go all out in your dance, listening to the song and moving even just your big toe can be enough to shift the balance. I like to have a playlist of songs that range in accessiblity for me - some are full blown happy tunes, while others will give me the boost I need while still matching me where I am.
Lie on your back and walk your bottom towards the wall. Extend your legs up the wall. You can keep your legs bent, and your bottom as far away as you need to make this possible.
It is about having your feet and legs above your torso, not about having straight legs. This should be a pose that is relaxing. If the wall feels too intense, you could try resting your legs on a lounge or bed. Stay in this pose for 3 - 5 minutes.
Tapping into the activation of our bodies natural trauma release can help us to let go of stress, tension, and emotions quite simply. We can recalibrate our nervous system in times of heightened emotions, and to process longer held issues through shaking & bouncing.
Find a soft carpet, a mat, a mini tramp, or something that allows you to do a gentle cushioned bouncing movement. Not a jumping action, just a bounce from your knees. Bounce for a few minutes and notice the calming effect.