The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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TIPS FOR TEENS: Breathing to Stay Calm
Laya Yagersys

During this pandemic, stress levels have increased for many teens. Before we all began staying at home, I had worked hard to bring down my anxiety, but during lockdown, my anxiety levels started to go up again.

My psychologist recommended breathing exercises, which have made it much easier for me to deal with staying at home all the time.

I do these exercises when I wake up and before going to sleep. The duration varies for each person, but I find it is good to start with a time that you feel comfortable with and then increase the length. I started with one minute and now am up to six minutes. I do the exercises lying down, which is recommended for optimal relaxation of the body. Once I am lying down, I inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth in a calm manner, and repeat.

There are many apps like Tide, Calm, or Headspace that help with these exercises. The one I use the most is Tide, since it has a vibration sensor to indicate when to inhale and exhale. By guiding your breathing, these apps also help with meditation and sleep. I’ve noticed that doing the exercises in the morning helps me start the day feeling calm and gives me more optimism throughout the day.

Many people play relaxing music; I use recordings of nature sounds, such as rain falling. I’ve found that I get the most out of the exercises when I can sync my breathing with these sounds. Eventually, I start to feel like I am in the countryside, with warm sunbeams shining on me and a gentle breeze, a setting I’ve always associated with peace.

Image by Badger416, Creative Commons

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