Take a Self-care Moment and Just Breath

by Courtney Osterfelt, Executive Director, The Launch Pad Teen Center of Prescott

Every year The Launch Pad Teen Center hosts leadership and personal growth retreats for teens.

At our annual teenage girls retreat we offer workshops relevant to the challenges facing teenage girls along with fun workshops on everything from making chocolate to changing the tire on your car. Usually the chocolate-making workshop has a waitlist.

This year our theme was mental health, and for the first time there wasn’t a waitlist for chocolate making, there was a waitlist for a workshop on breathing.

As the director of The Launch Pad Teen Center, moments like that are so revealing. When a large group of teens self-select to sign up for a workshop on how to breath to reduce anxiety, re-focus your energy and regulate negative emotions over workshops like hiking, painting and chocolate making, it is revealing of how difficult the events of the last two years have been on our teens and their families.

Let me start by saying how proud I am of these teenage girls for knowing they needed some tools to improve their mental health. The first step of self-care is carving out time and resources to take care of yourself. The reason I think our teens latched on to breath work is because it’s accessible and simple.

Teens are constantly pulled in multiple directions, and they don’t have the neurological maturity to know when it is right to sacrifice your own desires for the things you really need. Breathing however, is always with you, you can do it discreetly, and it fits into any social schedule.

Per usual, if our teens need it, adults typically do, too. Below is one of the exercises taught in the breathing workshop. I hope you find it as useful as our teenagers do.

Box Breathing:

1. Big breath in, and let it all out (clear your lungs and prepare for box breathing)

2. Inhale for 4 counts

3. Hold the breath in for 4 counts

4. Exhale for 4 counts

5. Hold your lungs empty for 4 counts

6. Continue steps 2-5, as needed

When to use Box Breathing

Feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed? Did your heart rate pick up in class/work, is your breath getting faster? Try Box Breathing for a few cycles to calm your nervous system and re-center.