You know how we always tell kids to “relax and calm down”?? Well, I can guarantee you that the last thing a kid is going to do when you tell them to relax and calm down, is actually relax and calm down.
And it’s not because they are being defiant (well, maybe they are!), but I think it’s mostly because we have never actually taught them how to relax and calm down.
When I say relax and calm down what I really mean to do, is for you to breathe.
Breathing will calm the brain and calm the body. There, simple enough, right?
Ha! It’s all easier said than done.
But it’s actually true – and it works! And here’s the thing though…you actually have to consciously do it for it to be of benefit to you.
My daughter used to say to me, “Well, mom, I’m thinking about breathing!” And I would just laugh compassionately and tell her that she’s got to do more than simply think about breathing.
Because truth is, you’ve been breathing from the moment you are born until the moment you die, and it’s something that is naturally occurring, but to use it to our benefit, you need to make it a conscious practice.
You see, there’s actual science behind all this: In your brain, you have two parts of your autonomic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system is the part of your brain that gets activated when you have a real or perceived threat, and you go into flight, fight or freeze. Your parasympathetic nervous system is the part of your brain that realizes you are no longer under a threat and it calms the brain and the body down, activating the rest and digest part of your brain.
When you breathe, your vegus nerve gets activated, which travels up your spine to your brain stem, literally pressing down on the rest and digest part of your brain. So, even if you think your breath isn’t doing anything for you, it is.
Don’t underestimate the power of your breath. Try and find time in your day to take a minute and just breathe. This will prime your brain for calming down, especially when you really need it. So next time someone tells you to relax and calm down, you’ll know what to actually do!