We’ve taught juggling, spinning plates, and other still toys like Flop Balls for over fifteen years - so we’ve seen it all. Furrowed brows, tongues stuck out, shoulders so tense they’re up to the ears, and yes, people holding their breath!
Have you ever focused so hard on something that you stopped breathing? Focus (especially when learning) is a great attribute, but not at the expense of well-being. With all of the time we spent online during the pandemic, screen apnea has been on the rise. This is the temporary stopping of breathing or shallow breathing that can happen while working in front of a screen.
Time to step away from the computer and focus on our breath for a few moments. Why? When we take deep breaths, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system which calms our body down and helps manage our stress responses.
Stand up and flop to get blood flowing and start breathing from your abdomen. Try flopping slowly and taking deep breaths with each toss to get into a soothing, rhythmic pattern. How does that feel?
Pausing to breathe can also help with emotional regulation. In his book Permission to Feel, Marc Brackett talks about the power of the Meta Moment in heated encounters. He suggests that “Taking one or more deep breaths...gives ourselves a little room to maneuver and deactivate... Looking at the encounter dispassionately may help us go beyond our first impulse to find a better response.”
Think of a situation when pausing to take a breath (and maybe even flop) might have helped you respond better. Now practice taking more deep breaths today.