Children May Benefit From Deep Breathing for Stress, Pain Relief

Children May Benefit From Deep Breathing for Stress, Pain Relief
Children May Benefit From Deep Breathing for Stress, Pain Relief

Young children can learn and use deep breathing techniques to strengthen their mind/body connection and relax, according to researchers from the Mayo Clinic.

Controlled breathing, also referred to as belly or abdominal breathing, is a deep, slow inhalation that expands the diaphragm downward and draws air deep into the lungs, pushing the belly out as the lungs fill up. This is followed by a long controlled exhale as the diaphragm muscles relax and air flows out. This specific breathing increases the oxygen supply to the brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. It shifts the individual from the "fight or flight" instinct on high alert to a state where the heart rate slows, blood pressure lowers, and pain decreases.

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For children, researchers add that deep breathing can become a part of a bedtime routine to encourage calmness and relaxation. Incorporating images and phrases can enhance the deep breathing. It may also hep relieve frequent headache pain or stomachaches. The following is recommended:

  • Find a comfortable position. If possible, lie down on a flat surface.
  • Place a hand on your belly or an object, such as a stuffed animal or even a book. Your hand/object should rise as you take a big breath and your hand should fall as you let the air out slowly over a period of several seconds.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Let your shoulders and neck relax with the movement in your abdomen. Repeat 15–20 times.
  • Consider adding a short phrase in your mind with the breathing: “I am” on the inhalation, “relaxed” on the exhalation. You could also slowly count to four on each breath.

For more information visit MayoClinic.org.