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Your Better Mental Wellbeing Podcast
Every Friday, GP and mental wellbeing expert Dr Neera Dholakia, and software developer and neuroscience researcher Soen Trueman, will help you discover how you can manage stress and build resilience through discussion and practical exercises, so that you can live a healthy, productive and meaningful life.
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Episode 3: Impactful 10: And Breathe

Do you want to be able to calm your mind and body quickly? Using the power of your body's natural breathing ability is the key.

Dr Neera Dholakia will be guiding you through a practical session on breathing techniques in this Episode 3 Impactful 10: And Breathe.

Your Better Mental Wellbeing is a weekly podcast helping you to manage stress and build resilience with easy evidence-based tools.

We're your hosts, Neera and Soen.

Dr Neera Dholakia is a GP for Boots Online Doctor and the NHS. She is an expert in mental wellbeing and has extensive experience designing mental health services whilst working for NHS England, Healthy London Partnership and mental health trusts. As well as promoting self-care, she also works to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Soen Trueman is a full stack developer with Boots Online Doctor, specialising in graphics design, user experience, and user behaviour. Soen’s interests in behavioural analysis extends to psychology and further to neuroscience, which he is currently studying at Harvard University.

This week's tools:

[01:30] Diaphragmatic or Belly Breathing

[02:53] 4-7 Breath and variations

[05:48] 3 minute Breathing Space

Join us next week when we look at loosening the grip of long term stress.

Find our more:

For transcripts visit our website: https://yourbettermentalwellbeing.show

For great health, lifestyle and wellbeing information visit: https://onlinedoctor.boots.com

The information in this podcast is not intended to replace your own GP or other doctor’s professional medical advice.

00:00/09:43
Read Full Episode Transcript
Neera

Do you want to be able to calm your mind and body quickly? Using the power of your body's natural breathing ability is the key.

Hello, and a very warm welcome to you. You're listening to And Breathe, the first episode of Your Better Mental Wellbeing: Impactful 10, where we take 10 minutes to introduce some practical techniques you can use daily to help manage your stress and improve your resilience.

I'm Dr. Neera Dholakia. I'm a GP for Boots Online Doctor and the NHS, and my expertise is in mental health and wellbeing. I'm really pleased to be guiding you through this practical session today.

The way you breathe can really impact your physical and mental state. By focusing on your breathing, you can connect your mind and body and can use its powerful ability to calm yourself quickly when you need to. By taking slower, deeper breaths, you will activate your body's parasympathetic nervous system, your rest and digest mode. This will trigger your relaxation response and reduce your stress levels. And you will feel more relaxed and calm.

I'm going to talk you through three different breathing techniques. The first two are quick, and the third one is a bit longer, so you might want to find somewhere comfortable to sit, stand, or lie down for that one.

Let's begin. The first technique is called diaphragmatic, or belly breathing. Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly. First notice how you're breathing currently, and then slowly deepen your breath by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale slowly out through your mouth. Then, as you inhale through your nose, fill your lungs with air and allow your belly to expand to the front and the sides. As you exhale through your mouth, feel your belly sink back down. Then repeat this for the next minute, focusing on taking long, slow, deep breaths. You can do this even just for 30 seconds at a time throughout the day.

The second technique is a 4-7 breath and really useful in those stressful moments. You breathe in for four counts, and then breathe out for seven counts. The key is for the out breath to be longer than the in breath. It's this longer exhalation that activates the relaxation response. You can do it with me, counting in your mind. Breathe in, two, three, four, and out, two, three, four, five, six, seven. In, two, three, four. Out two, three, four, five, six, seven. Now continue on your own. Breathing in for four and out for seven. You can add a pause after the inhalation by holding your breath, and this increases the relaxation response further. An easy one is 4-2-7. So breathe in for 4, hold for 2, and breathe out for 7. Do it with me. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 1, 2. Out, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4, and hold, 1, 2. Out, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Keep going in your own time for the next minute and feel your body and mind becoming calmer.

You can use whatever variation suits you. A common one is 4-7-8, or using longer breaths such as 7 in and 11 out. Find what feels right and natural for you. That might mean changing the counts, or not counting at all. Or adapting it if you can't breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. What matters is that you're focused on your breathing. Okay, now take a few moments to go back to breathing normally for you.

Now, if you're able to, find a comfortable position and settle into where you are. You can use this 3 minute breathing space to bring your focus back to step out of automatic pilot and improve your attention. So allow yourself to take a gentle pause on life now. Close your eyes if you'd like to.

Just notice whatever you're experiencing right now. Notice any sensations. What feels comfortable, or any discomfort or tension. Notice whatever you're sitting on. Notice your clothes against your body, and the air against your skin. And now, notice whatever is in your mind. Whatever thoughts are there. And as best you can, just observe your thoughts as they are in your mind right now. See if you can allow things to be just as they are right now, without changing them, in your mind and in your body.

And now bring your attention down to your breathing and the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe in and out. Notice the cool air flowing as you inhale and the warm air as you exhale. You're not trying to change your breathing in any way. Just simply being aware of it, in a welcome and open way. It's natural for your attention to wander away from your breathing, from time to time. If this happens, gently lead it back to your breathing again. Noticing each breath in and out.

And now allow your awareness to expand out again. Bring your awareness back to your whole body and how your breath feels throughout your body. Notice the sensations from the top of your head down to your fingertips and your toes. The sensations on your skin and inside your body too. Notice what you're thinking. And what you're feeling. Hold your thoughts and feelings and breath in your awareness. And just enjoy a moment of peace and stillness.

And when you're ready, open your eyes and have a little stretch.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Your Better Mental Wellbeing: Impactful 10. Join us next Friday for Episode 4, how we can loosen the grip of long term stress. And remember, to live your values, accept yourself, and let go.

About This Podcast
Your Hosts
Dr Neera Dholakia
Dr Neera is a GP and Clinical Lead for our Depression and Anxiety service. A safeguarding and mental health expert, she helps ensure services are both efficient and safe. As well as promoting self-care, she works to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Soen Trueman
Soen is a full stack developer with Boots Online Doctor, specialising in graphics design, user experience, and user behaviour. Soen’s interests in behavioural analysis extends to psychology and further to neuroscience, which he is currently studying at Harvard University.
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The information in this podcast is not intended to replace your own GP or other doctor's professional medical advice.
Music credits: Main theme by AudioCoffee, Impactful 10 by Dream-Protocol, Jingle by Serge Quadrado Music