Over the last few years I’ve delivered a workshop a number of times on “The Storms of Life”, talking about how we cope when the unexpected rolls into our day to day life. A big part of the session is focused on how we can manage our minds, ensuring that we aren’t allowing the chaos that defines our exterior to also characterise how we are on the inside.

When I talk about dealing with anxiety that can arrive with our ‘storms’ and the symptoms that come along with it, one of the big pieces I try to get across is the importance of breathing.

Cue a sea of questioning and skeptical eyes.

I’m not a mind reader, but if I was, I’d say I’d be hearing some combination of:

“Breathing? Who is this guy. Breathing is his trick. Kook.”

“I literally breathe every second of the day. This is the answer?”

And they would be right in part.

Breathing isn’t rocket science. It’s nothing new, and it’s certainly not the silver bullet.

But it is a great starting point.

Why? Because so often when we are trying to manage our anxiety we neglect the importance of stopping to breathe into consideration.

A simple, focused, mindful breathing that grounds us in the moment we find ourselves can act a bit like a computer reboot.

I’m a devil for a full desktop background, and multiple windows open on my computer. Anxiety can feel like that, countless things going on at once, many answers to search for, with no space to think.

In choosing to take the time to slow our minds, and focus simply on our breath, we not only begin to calm our nervous system (which in anxiety or stress can be in overdrive) but give our minds the chance to stop, creating space and the freedom to choose what to focus on, rather than allowing our frantic brain free reign to set the tone and direction of our minds.

Focused breathing isn’t rocket science, and it’s not going to change everything. But what it can offer is the opportunity to stop, refocus and maybe even reframe what’s happening around you.

The short video below talks you through a simple breathing exercise you can use to practice this for yourself, wherever and however you find yourself.

Tom Tate