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  • Writer's pictureAlley Dezenhouse Kelner

In 2, 3, 4; out 2, 3, 4

Whenever I am on vacation, sitting on a beach, laying in a pool cabana or otherwise taking it all in--I find myself taking lots of deep breaths. I am conscious of my breathing, and I am relaxed; maybe it's the cocktails, or maybe it's the result of the simple pleasures that result from being in the moment. Which, I admit, is far easier when the 'in the moment' my feet are firmly planted in white sandy beaches and my eyes are focused on the rolling tides.

Belly breathing is a practice that helps calm the body and the mind; it is an application of CBT which is often over looked in the midst of daily life.

Think about how often you actually stop and take a deep breath; many of us go a full day, or longer, without consciously thinking about our breathing patterns. It is often not until we become anxious, and breathing becomes more shallow (or rapid), that we recognize the need for deep breathing.

When working with kiddos suffering from anxiety, perhaps those who also have neurological differences (autism, ADHD, and so on), belly breathing can be instrumental in teaching just one of the many coping skills kids (all people) can develop. Think about how empowered you feel when you realize you have the power the respond to your anxiety in a productive way? To limit it's impact on your thoughts and emotions? It is important, however, to remember that belly breathing should be ongoing as a way to prevent (and NOT just respond to) anxiety (stress).

Working with children is insightful; they often perceive of anxieties differently than adults and may be less able to identify their triggers, anxiety responses and indicators of calm. Never the less, kids (particularly those with anxiety) are excellent candidates for CBT.

In preparing for a session with one of my little monkeys, I came across an amazing song which emphasizes the value of belly breathing as a preventative measure and a way for regulating emotions; the video is kid friendly, adult friendly (catchy and melodic) and psycho educationally appropriate. It won't transport you back to a sandy beach, but it might help you achieve calm (or at least teach your little monkey the value of "belly breathing").



Belly Breathe

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