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Why I Can't Stand Breathing Exercises and That's OK

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Stereotypically, how do you achieve calm and a stress free life? Any quick Google search starts with yoga, mindful meditation, calming sounds, nature walks, and just breathe, here are 10 breathing exercises and don't worry it's hardwired into your Fitbit too. Just breathe in time to the vibrations and magically you'll be all better.


Dive a little deeper into Self-Reg and you'll know that these are one size fits all approaches to reducing stress. Although these can be fantastic ways to Respond (Shanker Self-Reg Step 5 preemptively building up your energy) or great tools in the moment to Reduce stress (Step 3), for some they do the opposite and burn more energy than they generate, exacerbating your level of stress.


I use breathing exercises as an example for me, as I find restricting my air supply is a sure-fire way for me to go from teetering on red brain to going full-blown limbic. It's a significant biological stressor for me. Breathing is such a vital part of existence, I panic when I don't have enough air, or even it being out of sync and having too much. My brain and body go "ahhhh! Something's not right! Panic to survive!". Also when doing timed breathing exercises and I find I can't match the timing I oddly feel guilty or uncomfortable that I got something so simple wrong.


Thanks to going through Foundations and now working through Facilitator's I know that I'm not the only one. That many others personally don't find stereotypical calming methods calming, but rather energy zappers which edge you closer to red brain, increasing how stressed you feel.


Which classic calming techniques work for you? But also as importantly, which don't? And how can you accommodate that and allow flexibility for yourself and others in your personal and professional lives?

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Liz, I received a Fit bit as a gift and the first time it did the breathing vibration thing, it scared the daylights out of me. My limbic reaction was -what did I do, did I push a button, what does it mean? It was actually dysregulating as I was not expecting it and did not understand it (from Dr. Jean Clinton - it had the first two variables from NUTS - novel and unpredictable - was it a T? - threat to my ego - probably that too as I thought maybe something was wrong with me!)

If I do planned breathing I am good with it, like in my yoga class and I love the form of yoga…

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Aviva Dunsiger
Aviva Dunsiger
Mar 24, 2020

I totally agree with you, @lizshepherd! Sometimes an option that causes me stress at one time is what I look for at another. I wonder what others find works for them.


Aviva

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Liz Shepherd
Liz Shepherd
Mar 24, 2020

I totally agree, options is where it is at! And even for me, different things work in different situations. It is all about the stressors that led me to that moment and how best to reduce them and restore my energy. Sometimes it is music, sometimes is putting my head down somewhere quiet and safe, sometimes it's running at full speed on a treadmill.

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Aviva Dunsiger
Aviva Dunsiger
Mar 23, 2020

Liz, I can totally relate to this! Sometimes a few deep breaths work for me, but the non-stop breathing exercises quickly become overwhelming for me. I also have problems with colouring. Trying to stay in the lines becomes more stressful than calming for me. A little alone time and reading work for me, but I’m not sure that either would be considered more “classic calming techniques.” Maybe the key here is ensuring that we have different options available for kids and adults, aware that we are not all the same. How do others do this? Interested in hearing other stories.


Aviva

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