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Last Updated on April 19, 2018

How Practicing Deep Breathing Exercises Can Make You a Better Parent

How Practicing Deep Breathing Exercises Can Make You a Better Parent

Do you want to be a better parent? Chances are, the answer is “yes”. After all, as parents we are always looking out for the wellness of our children–and that especially includes our own interactions with them.

What if I told you that simple deep breathing exercises can vastly improve your parenting skills?

Not convinced? Read on to learn how this simple technique can make you a better parent.

Good Versus Better Breathing

Breathing is something that we take for granted. We’re potentially not even conscious of it, yet it is a key ingredient to human function and performance.

Breathing is a human reflex we’re born with; it’s attached to our nervous system, which has an input and an output. As a parent you most likely cried with joy at your kids first screaming breath; that very moment changing your life forever.

Most likely, though, no one told you as you dove into the art of parenthood that your breathing patterns have a profound affect on us.

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If you have poor breathing patterns (input), you’ll have poor motor output, which can result in muscle compensations, stress and even possible injuries.

Breathing plays a huge role in optimal nervous system function, proper motor function, relaxation, focus, and efficiency.

Today I’m going to take you on a journey into what deep breathing is all about. You’ll learn how it is congruent with less-stressed parenting, and how to go about fitting that in with everything else you have to juggle.

Two Types of Breathing

There are two types of breathing:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing is the most natural way in which the breath utilizes the deep muscles allowing the spine to be stable and mobile. This type of breathing comes from the rib cage and allows the lungs to expand top to bottom, front to back and to each side.
  • Chest breathing (also known as apical breathing) refers to a pattern of breathing where the movement is confined to the upper chest. This type of breathing results from fewer muscles being utilized, so the muscles that are used (upper chest, neck and shoulders) undergo more stress and more movement to facilitate the breathing rhythms.

Deep breathing is not simply expanding your breath as much as possible. Deep breathing is actually defined above as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’.

“Your posture and presence is everything; how you hold yourself determines how your connect to yourself, others and the world around you.”

The diaphragm is a dome shaped band of connective tissue that sits under the ribcage. It helps to draw air into the lungs and the belly when one is taking a full breath, and it massages the body’s organs as it drops down.

The diaphragm is a storehouse for emotional tension, stress, and anxiety.

As our posture changes to a more forward folding movement, such as while sitting or driving for extended periods of time, the diaphragm is ‘locked down’ or becomes ‘stuck’. Similarly the pressures and postures put on a woman’s body throughout pregnancy and during the post-natal period is an example of this.

We go through our lives and forget to breathe into the belly at rest, the sympathetic nervous system of fight/flight and freeze is activated.

The diaphragm and breathing has a direct link to the nervous system.

Carrying out deep diaphragmatic breathing can assist you, your family and your kids to overcome the stresses of everyday life. You be able to live more vitally with more energy, better posture and less pain.

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How to Breathe Better

To really get the best from your deep breathing exercises, it is wise to first understand the three main components of deep breathing:

  1. Opening up the chest
  2. Releasing the diaphragm
  3. Practicing the breath work

I’ve made a video that you can watch below, or follow the written instructions underneath the video.

  1. Open the chest by applying medium to hard pressure to the sternum area using your fingers or a lacrosse ball. Then use your fingers/the ball to ‘shift the skin’ by dragging your chosen implement back and forth. This can be a little painful but can massively assist reduction in neck/shoulder pain so I truly recommend it. Watch the video if you’d like more clarity on exactly how to do this.
  2. Release the diaphragm by doing the same ‘shifting the skin’ at the edge of the ribcage 1-2 inches below the sternum. This is where the diaphragm sits. By doing so you’re inviting movement in the tissues (muscles & fascia) of the diaphragm and surrounding area.
  3. Practice the breath work by first placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy just below your ribs. Practice breathing into your lower hand and keeping the upper hand immobile. Once confident in practicing this type of breath you can add ‘resistance’ to your breath by sucking air through your fingers as you breathe.

Go Deep with Ease

Keep these tips in mind when you’re practicing diaphragmatic/deep breathing:

  • It can take some time to relearn how to breathe. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Take some time each day to practice this exercise. The nice thing is, you can do it anywhere.
  • Try to practice at a time when you’re already relaxed. This will make it easier to take deeper breaths.
  • If you’re having trouble taking deep breaths, try going to the hand on chest and hand on tummy breath. Aim to keep the hand on your chest immobile as you breath into the lower hand on your tummy.
  • Practice taking 5 breaths each morning as you rest in bed. For each breath count in for a count of 3, hold for a second then breathe out for a count of 4.
  • In time and with practice you will get an idea about how long you need to practice deep breathing exercises to reduce stress. Early on it may be helpful to set a particular time limit, for example, 5 breaths if you’re pressed for time.
  • Keep in mind that it’s usually more effective to practice several shorter periods of deep breathing rather than single long episodes of deep breathing. Practicing more often also helps you to easily incorporate deep breathing as a habit into your lifestyle.

Take a Deep Breath and Improve Your Parenting

Deep breathing is just one method of reducing–or at least coping with–stress in your life; but, there are many stress management techniques that may help you live with more joy and less worry every day.

It is something that can easily be practiced in minimal time. I suggest aiming to commit to just 5 breaths each day after the chest opening and diaphragm release.

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Doing those two things in conjunction with deep breathing will massively help you to feel less stressed, more comfortable and at ease throughout your day.

Even better, encourage the idea that a stress management lifestyle can be a family affair!

Try some of the practices mentioned above with your children along with yourself so that everyone can reap the benefits of deep breathing.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

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Published on March 19, 2019

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success


Do you remember the last time you faced a major setback–when you felt so low, that nothing seemed to make you happy? No matter how hard you tried, you just felt like the world was against you. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, or the loss of a loved one… maybe something bad happened at work? Whatever it may be, could you recall how your attitude was towards that situation?

Often when we’re caught in an unhappy situation, we feel limited and sometimes trapped. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can, but it’s never quite that simple.

Unfortunately, some people can remain in that terrible situation for weeks, months or even years; while others may come out strong and ready to start over–or continue from where they left off–fairly quickly.

So what sets these two groups apart?

The answer is their attitude.

Attitude is everything when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. 

When you’re able to have a positive mindset, you’ll be able to break free of your limitations that are holding you back.

A positive attitude also goes a long way in ensuring you come out victorious from whatever limitations that were holding you back before. It transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Positive Attitude Brings About Positive Health 

When you’re stuck in a rut, often the first thoughts that run through your head are negative, thus your outlook likely becomes pessimistic. But, if you can transform those thoughts into more positive ones, then you’re on your way to talking yourself out of that rut, which allows you to move forward.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring all the bad or unpleasant feelings altogether. It just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way–instead of taking everything as a victim to negative circumstances, you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Be aware of self talk!

These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason, while other self talk may arise from misconceptions that you create. Others could come from external sources such as negative people around you, or messages from the media.

The key is to surround yourself with positive influences that can help turn those negative thoughts into positive, more productive actions.You’ll not only feel better about the situation, but in the long run, positive thinking can lower your levels of distress and depression and give you better coping skills during hardships.

Researchers studying the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health have also found that positive thinking may provide increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and even greater resistance to the common cold!

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, but one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

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Suffering is Inevitable, So It’s Best to Accept It 

Now, one thing that everyone goes through at some point, is suffering. It’s a harsh reality, yet you can’t actually avoid it. We experience suffering as the result of unhappiness, fear, anger, loss or frustration. In fact, it would be hard to even imagine the feeling of happiness if we never experienced suffering! How would we ever compare it?

So instead of wallowing in sorrow about the suffering you have endured, take the suffering as an opportunity for change. Did you get laid off from your job? Perhaps this would be a good time to re-assess your career goals.

Rather than feeling negative and stuck, use your time and energy to find opportunities which will put you ahead. With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

This may sound crazy, but suffering is the secret to being successful! 

Here’s what I mean. It’s impossible to think of new ideas or understand new experiences without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who has met great successes has also faced many failures, as nobody wins on every try.

To propel you toward success, find a way to track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. It may be helpful to conduct a weekly review to assess where you are and acknowledge all of the small wins of the week. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, is an achievement; so, be sure to take note of them.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress. The point is, you’re making progress; even if it feels like suffering, you can see that it’s leading you to joy.

Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Each step you make towards progress is making you a better version of you.

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Gratitude Goes a Long Way in Shaping Attitude 

Now, this may seem difficult to do when you’re already feeling down, but having gratitude is a very useful when you’re trying to navigate your way out of a setback. Being grateful for existing accomplishments and the supports in your life will help you see them more clearly, build your own confidence, and give you a better overall outlook on what your limitations really are and what you have to do to overcome them.

With a grateful attitude, you limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Being grateful, even during the toughest of times, steers your attitude towards a more positive one, allowing you to get back on your feet much more quickly. Many studies done on gratitude have shown positive results for people who practice regularly, such as improvement in relationships and in mental health. There’s even studies that show higher motivation in work settings due to a simple ‘thank you’ from managers to their subordinates.

Believe in Yourself and Your Truth

This is often easier said than done, but is also the most empowering truth to overcoming your setbacks and limitations in life.

Many people find it hard to keep a positive attitude during tough times because they lack inner confidence. They doubt their abilities because of the ‘failure’ that they’re experiencing, and don’t think that they can rise above again.

But, confidence doesn’t just come from talent, luck or easy opportunity. Confidence comes from overcoming difficulties and facing your fears head on. 

Confidence is a result of getting out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll be, and the more positive your attitude will be. Confidence will help you see your goals more clearly, find your strengths within, reach your goals and overcome your limitations much more quickly.

Here’s a quick story about my own struggles helping me get ahead:

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain a solid readership. Just getting 100 visitors was a challenge and took a good bit of time. I had great ambitions for this site, yet it seemed like I was doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism, too. Some people thought that the world didn’t need yet another self help site, others offered the opinion that there was something wrong with the idea itself and I was making a mistake.

It was hard for me not to listen to them and, at some times, agree. But, persistence is key, and in the end I chose to believe in my truth.

I worked tirelessly changing the site layout, restructuring articles, and making the site more user friendly. Slowly, I expanded to a team with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people. With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later, we had influenced millions–and continue to do so.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing every challenge head on were the greatest contributing factors to increasing my confidence. So welcome the challenges that come; don’t avoid them, as they’re all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Your Attitude Sets the Tone for Success 

Do you see the importance of having a positive attitude? It is so much more than a mindset or state of mind. Your attitude sets the tone for every action and behavior that follows after, and that will determine how long it takes for you to break free from your current circumstance.

So if you’re currently in an unhappy situation, why not give it a try and look at things from a more positive outlook? As mentioned, not only does having a positive attitude bring about favorable outcomes, it also brings about positive health in the long run.

Embracing hardship as it is, and using it as a learning experience to grow, will also make you stronger. And, whether you’re going through good or bad times, practicing gratitude will no doubt help to limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Lastly, in any circumstance, you are your greatest barrier to success, which is why it’s important to always believe in yourself!

You will always have the power to be in control of your situation because your attitude is determined by you. So start harnessing all that positive thinking to turn those limitations into strengths!

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Featured photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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