Dare to Breathe

There is one thing a Teacher can never have enough of – patience. I’m not sure if most people realise this but patience comes in many forms. However, it almost always boils down to the ability to remind yourself to do one very important basic thing…BREATHE.

Now… I didn’t say that it cured anxiety! I said that it would help!!

Recently, I have been thrown in the deep end. Going from a low behaviour management environment to being in a room where I constantly have to remind students to stay on task amidst friendship issues, relationship problems, truancy, violence, apathy, learned helplessness, family strain/stress and personalities with multiple learning challenges, instability and financial issues. One thing hasn’t changed though – and that’s the persistence I have with myself not to let things shake me. Not to let things get to me too much. Not to let the overwhelming feeling of drowning stop you from breathing.

Funny Pictures Help Help I'm Drowning

However, when your thoughts are like the one below you would find it quite challenging to remind yourself to breathe when you believe everything and everyone is out to get you.

Stress and anxiety are not easy things to deal with and everyone suffers from it at one point or another.  Some of us will suffer from severe stress and anxiety multiple times in our lives for one reason or another. There are some things we need to realise about this and that is not all people have the same level of stress and anxiety and not everyone will be able to deal with it the same way.  The one way I have found that has helped me and many other students that I have come across is the simple concept of mindfulness.  Knowing where you are, knowing what you are doing and knowing to just be.

I have observed a large number of students go through panic attacks for one reason or another and the thing that stands out the most is their inability to learn how to handle it. And this is where we need to step in and give them the tools to be able to cope. So…how does one cope?

This one I have used to talk students off a ledge, literally or to get them to keep going when their fear is taking over, again literally – high ropes course anyone?

  1. Tell me 5 things you see.
  2. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  3. Tell me 4 things you can touch.
  4. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  5. Tell me 3 things you can smell.
  6. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  7. Tell me 2 things you can taste.
  8. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.

The beauty of this distracting technique is that it works. It works for me and it has worked on all the students I have tried it on. Normally by step 5 or 6 they are calm enough to start thinking about the next step of their journey rather than get lost in their own thoughts of panic.

This is not a definitive answer to relieving stress and anxiety but it’s definitely a step forward if we at least have another thing to tuck into our tool belt when needed.

There are also a number of TED talks on the topic that provide diverse options for dealing with anxiety.

Though possibly my most favourite thing to bust anxiety is left to one particular superhero….

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