Reduce family stress by introducing active breathing during COVID-19 situation

Published on https://www.qf.org.qa/stories/maintaining-healthy-minds-and-bodies-while-self-isolating

The current circumstances of COVID-19 are indeed worrying. [i]On one hand, socially separated individuals and families are suffering with the trauma of isolation. On the other hand, families impacted by Covid-19 and health care professionals on the front line are undergoing an enormous amount of emotional and psychological stress. Unfortunately, different untrusted sources of information can create ambiguity which may lead to fear, creating stress affecting the physical, mental and emotional health of a person or family. Social distancing, lack of outdoor activities all while we are busy coping with everyday responsibilities can lead to emotional overload, conflicts, boredom and disturbed sleep. Leaving us overwhelmed and vulnerable to stress, affecting the overall health of the family.

During this time of unpredictable period it is essential to stay calm, go easy on yourself and your family members. Also, to adopt a routine ensuring enough rest and respite during work or between shifts, maintaining a sleep schedule and healthy eating.

How to support each other as a family?

One of the activities to incorporate into our everyday routine is ‘active breathing’.  [ii]Breathing is scientifically proven to support both external and internal physical, mental and emotional fluctuations. Breathing also helps a family avoid falling into negative cycles during periods of stress, keeps them stable in times of trauma, gives them strength and clarity, keeps them together to face a crisis as one united family, rather than being depressed and distant.

1:2 breathing technique is useful to reduce stress and provides emotional support. It is a three-minute breathing that can be practised anytime as an individual or together as a family. It has calming effects, helps reduce exhaustion, and manages stress. It can also pacify children tantrums and help develop their creative side. It supports adults who feel frustrated and agitated about the outbreak or being in quarantine.

How to begin!

Step 1: Sit comfortably, relax shoulders, and place your hands on your knees with palms facing up.

  • Options for couples/family: Encourage your children to join. Sit in a circle and hold hands with the member sitting beside you on each side. You can also place palms on the shoulders of members sitting next to you. This will share empathy and support and ensure love and assurance to each other.

Step 2: To start breathing first, exhale completely through your mouth.

Step 3: Gently and deeply Inhale through your nose. Inhale for two counts and exhale for 4 counts (1:2).

  • Inhale slowly to fill your chest, ribcage, belly, lower belly, fully with the air.
  • Exhale slowly (through your mouth) to activate relaxation and peace of mind.

Note:

  • Try and breathe at the pace of members breathing with you, synchronizing your breathing with theirs.
  • If you are distant from your family, practice this breathing with them online/virtually.

Gradually increase the count of inhales and exhales by 1:2 method (ratio). For example, four inhales and eight exhales. And, with practice, you can increase the time.

Encourage the habit of this simple breathing technique at home and help each other manage worry and stress. Develop a family that is calm and distant or together supports each other during the crisis!


[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923594/

[ii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180510101254.htm

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