In July 2021, Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, wrote an article for the Guardian in which she highlighted the importance of mental health support in schools in the post-pandemic era.
In the article, Spielman stated: "We need to be in no doubt that this is going to be a long-term issue. And the more we can help children to get back to normal, the better. That means supporting them not just academically, but socially and emotionally too. Schools and colleges will need the resources and support to help pupils who have experienced isolation and anxiety."
Schools or medical professionals., which do parents turn to first? What specific tools are used?
I recently had a conversation with an NHS psychologist. I was surprised to find that they did not specifically work with the link between anxiety and certain breathing patterns, despite the existence of clinical research on this topic.
Talk therapy is valuable, however a hyper-vigilant state of anxiety is felt IN THE BODY. If a person's breathing is not ideal, talk therapy or mindfulness practices are unlikely to help individuals find a feeling of safety. You can't cheat on your own brain's power of detection!
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that a 12-week breathing-based meditation program reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in participants. The study showed that the program led to a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms, as well as a reduction in depressive symptoms.
In addition to these techniques, another breathing method that has been studied is the Buteyko breathing method. This method involves breathing exercises to reduce hyperventilation and has been found to be effective in improving asthma symptoms and reducing medication use in adults with asthma, according to a study published in Respiratory Medicine.
The way we breathe effects the blood chemistry and your brain receives signals 24/7 about your physical state. That information is processed and your nervous system reposnds accordingly, regulating how safe or unsafe your physical body feels and relaying that into your mind's thoughts.
I believe that the impact of breathing on mental health is huge and the need for more awareness and research on this topic is vast.
If you're struggling with anxiety, it may be worth exploring breathing techniques as part of your mental health support plan.
For this reason, i'm finalising a picturebook called "Susie Sloth and her Secret Superpower".
🦥 Susie Sloth makes friends with animals who each have a special skill BUT can anyone guess her secret superpower?
🦥 A sweet & interactive tale introducing kids to Pilates movements
🦥 Her superpower ~controlling her breath~leads to her top 5 breathwork practices for wellbeing
I’m qualified as a kids pilates teacher and Buteyko breathing coach. The breathing practices are all themed to match the animals in the story and perfect for kids.
They're actually the breathing tools I use most frequently with any clients and provide a small but highly practical toolbox for most situations in life.
I plan to use this book to visit schools and teach the next generation breathwork that can
learn to pause
improve blood chemistry
These are simple skills that will be so helpful to children, equally beneficial to teachers, parents, and everyone with a set of lungs!
Ensuring the basic building blocks are set correctly is vital. A breathing assessment and some reeducation can make a huge difference to the signals and state of our nervous system.
Then children will feel safer, will sleep better, concentrate more easily, and be more at ease.
If you'd like to know when the book launches, please subscribe to my website and I'll send you my reading list to fill the gap!
Benefits Of Better Breathing
"A 12-week integrative meditation program improves anxiety and depression symptoms in individuals with various levels of depressive symptoms: A randomized, controlled, pilot study." Journal of Psychiatric Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28709770
"Sudarshan Kriya Yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: part I-neurophysiologic model." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14736317