The ‘magic of breathing’, for confidence, calm and more, from Mindfulness enthusiast, Erika Sandström.

It is no secret that times have been tough (very tough, in fact) these past few years. With that in mind, I am here to share a simple and powerful tool we all have access to and should tap into more every single day – the power of breathing. Breathing is pure magic! I use breathing techniques such as breathing bubbles daily to balance my mind, body and spirit – and I store them in a Wakelet collection so I can access them at any time.

I am excited to share how you can cultivate a classroom practice of deep breathing using creative media with your students.

A powerful tool in your back pocket

Balancing the mind, body, and spirit is essential for overall wellbeing and can help to improve both physical and mental health. Mindfulness, which involves being present and engaged in the current moment, can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and promote a sense of calm and inner peace. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including relieving stress, and helping you move out of your ‘fight or flight’ mode. When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, our breath can become ‘shallow and rapid, which can exacerbate feelings of unease and tension.’1

By practicing breathing techniques, we can slow down our heart rate, lower our blood pressure and bring our attention back to the present.

Example of a personalised breathing bubble.

So, what are these ‘breathing bubbles’ all about?

The Breathing Bubble is an audiovisual guide that helps you maintain rhythm and pace during a deep breathing session. You are asked to watch a bubble ‘expand’ and ‘contract,’ and follow that same pattern with your breathing.

A key part when using this technique is holding your breath at the highest and lowest point of the bubble. This helps slow down your heart rate, resulting in a calmer, cooler demeanor. My voice even changes after I use a breathing bubble – I start speaking from my diaphragm instead of shrieking from my throat!

Students can find breathing bubbles especially beneficial when dealing with pressures related to schoolwork and exams. Anxiety can often cause them to forget the material they studied. A few minutes of deep breathing can help reset their minds and hopefully restore that learned knowledge. In my thirty years of teaching, I have experienced countless success stories proving breathing bubbles do work.

It’s a powerful tool we all have access to 24 hours a day. I always tell my students, “You have it in your back pocket for whenever you need it.”

Here are some examples of how breathing bubbles have helped my students:

  • Student Y said she uses her breathing bubble to help her sleep almost every evening to quiet her busy brain.
  • Student E told me she pulls out her phone to use her breathing bubble in car rides as they make her anxious.
  • Student J explained he uses his personalized breathing bubble when the Boston Celtics play basketball – especially if they are losing!

Heartwarmingly, a former student sent me an email that read:

“Today I started my first day of high school. Your meditation lesson definitely helped with my anxiety, and it helped calm me down. I usually do it for half an hour before school every morning. Honestly, if I ever have a problem, you helped me create a safe space for me to go when I am in need. Anyways, I just wanted to say a huge thank you. Also, if you ever need help in the classrooms, I would be glad to come in.”

Let’s get personal!

Back in 2020 when the pandemic hit, I started experimenting with creating my very own personalized breathing bubbles! While the natural beauty of Calm app’s breathing bubble was always effective, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t breathing bubbles be more powerful with personalized footage of things that bring you calm?’ This is when my passion project, #MyBreathingBubble, took flight!

Creating their own personalized breathing bubble has introduced the effectiveness of mindfulness to my students in a fun way. Being able to incorporate their own interests in the project has kept students engaged in experimenting with mindfulness and how it can benefit them. Witnessing the students create and practice the timing of their breathing (such as the 3-2-4 method) as they relax into their chairs and seeing how it can make them feel has been nothing short of rewarding.

I am honored to share the magic by debuting a few of my templates and tutorials here in R.I.S.E. Magazine! Enjoy these with your students of any age. If you share them on social media, please use the hashtag, #MyBreathingBubble and tag me @GreenScreenGal (on Twitter). Maybe your personalized bubble can bring another soul some peace and calm too! Be on the lookout for my new book, ‘Cultivate Compassion Through Creativity,’ through Teacher Goals

Publishing, as there will be an entire chapter devoted to breathing techniques. I look forward to hearing the benefits you witness from your students and feel for yourself. I wish you all more peace and balance throughout your day.

Happy breathing!

References

  1. 1 Abraham, M. (2020) ‘Anxiety often causes shallow breathing,’ Calm Clinic. Available at: https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/ symptoms/shallow-breathing (Accessed: 30 Jan 2023)

Author

  • Erika Sandström

    Erika is a digital learning coach and a 6-8 digital media teacher specializing in green screen and video production. She is a leader of her district’s social emotional learning team. Dubbed “Green Screen Gal,” Erika shares her passions speaking at conferences, through professional development, and online webinars and courses. Erika has also created and presented ‘Mindfulness Professional Development’ globally.
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