Deep Breathing to Calm Your Nerves
Every teacher has “one of those days.” The kids are okay, but you feel … well, anxious. Stress and anxiety are natural in the life of a teacher, but it can do more than ruin your day. Stress can affect your behavior, thinking ability, and even physical health. It’s important to find your sanity and reset your nerves to stay healthy and be the best version of yourself every day.
One easy and convenient way to help calm your mind and body is to do some deep breathing. Deep breathing exercises can be done anytime, anywhere, and without anyone even noticing. Done regularly it can increase your overall wellness and state of being.
The wrong kind of breathing.
Many people are perpetuating their stress and discomfort simply by the way they are breathing. Check your breathing. Does it travel down your body? Is there a 360-degree expansion around your abdomen? Is your sternum moving forward and not pulling up toward your head? If not, you are most likely chest breathing.
When breathing from our chest, we put our bodies into a fight or flight state, activating the sympathetic nervous system. This improper breathing can lead to disc herniations, neck pain, headaches, and core instability. Chest breathing can also have an effect on our propensity toward anxiety, panic attacks, and migraines.
Why deep breathing?
Many people try to destress in multiple ways: watching television, exercising, taking a long walk, or even meditating. But in the midst of your school day, these aren’t viable options. Breathing deeply lets your brain know it is time to calm down and relax. Long, deep breaths pull in oxygen, allowing the body and mind to become clearer. Plus, it can slow your heart rate and even lower your blood pressure — and it can be done right at your desk in just a few minutes.
Deep breathing basics.
Find the moments to practice some deep breathing self-care for less stress and better performance.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet side-by-side on the floor.
- Place one hand on your belly, your pinky finger just above the belly button.
- Notice the rise and fall of your belly. It should feel like a balloon filling as you breathe in. As you breathe out, it should feel as though the balloon is deflating.
- Place your other hand on your chest. This hand should stay as still as possible, let the diaphragm do the work.
- Keeping your shoulders relaxed, inhale slowly to the count of three.
- Exhale to the count of six, thinking the word “relax” as you do.
- Stay focused on the actions of your body. Your belly should move outward in a 360-degree expansion.
- Repeat for several minutes, concentrating breathing with your belly, not your chest.
Check out more simple breathing exercises for you and your students.
Habituate your breathing.
The best habits are developed through practice, repetition, and consistency. Find a way to make deep breathing a part of your everyday:
- When you first wake up in the morning.
- When you first arrive at work, before the stress begins.
- In the evening right after you change into your bedclothes.
- In those in-between moments — set a timer on your phone, or pencil it into your schedule.
Find the time to breathe deeply and tackle every day with a fresh start and a healthy outlook.
With practice, you will find yourself more mentally prepared. And when stress, anxiety, or your students are causing you to tense up, you’ll be ready with a go-to technique at your disposal whenever and wherever you are.
Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on writing mode, she’s hanging out with her rascal of a puppy and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 8-year-old daughter.