Maybe it’s familiar to you—starfish breathing. When a friend is going through a tough time, I often have a conversation with them about remembering to breathe. It’s a simple, obvious thing that often gets overlooked. My personal breathing technique is prayer breaths, but that doesn’t seem comforting or familiar to many people, and through a difficult season of life, they need something simple. So, I try to suggest something I know might fit into their familiar habits and personality.
Starfish breathing is often taught to kids, but I’ve shared it with several adults who find it easy to remember as well as helpful. I thought it might be helpful to share.
Use one hand as the starfish. With the opposite hand’s index finger, slowly trace the outline with the starfish hand, going up and down each finger (at the pace of counting to three with each inhale and exhale even though you won’t need to count as you become familiar with the process). As you trace upward, inhale. As you trace downward, exhale. When you finish tracing your hand, pause and repeat if necessary. If you begin to use the strategy when your anxious or frustrated or overwhelmed, you’ll begin to gauge how many cycles of starfish breathing you need. And you’ll begin to be able to do it discreetly.
Different coping strategies help each of us with daily challenges. Perhaps this one will help you.