As I write this the snowdrops and primroses are starting to flower and the mornings are getting a little lighter. The latest storm is beginning to recede and I am hopeful that Spring is just around the corner.
I always think Spring is a better time for resolutions than midwinter. This year I have been thinking about the use of a ‘pause breath’. Traditionally square breathing is a feature of mindfulness and yoga. The army, talk about tactical breathing and we all recognise the need to stop and take a deep breath before plunging in.
The sketch note may help to remind us when we may need to take a square breath. We have been trialing them on gas machines, by computers and near other areas where you often need to wait. My favourite times replace waiting with pausing and breathing. These include at a red traffic light, in a queue, when put on hold and while waiting for the computer to start. More recently I have been taking the chance to pause before I react to a harsh comment or an angry relative. I try and always take a moment in between patients, before a meeting or before picking up the phone. I am interested in how taking a few square breaths can enable me to regroup and refocus and respond rather than react to a challenging situation.
In effect we can use a breath as punctuation through the day. We are often guilty of rushing from one thing to the next. We ruminate on what has happened and worry about what is about to happen. By enabling the breath to help us connect with ‘right now’ we can help to break this cycle.
During our last wellbeing month we displayed the sketch notes on loo doors and by hand dryers. They have proved very popular. We have a steady supply to replace those that have been ‘borrowed’ and I love to see visitors taking pictures of them and sharing via social media. They now appear on office doors, above computers, in staff rooms, by gas machines and on the front of diaries.
So perhaps you may like to join me. Let us have a practice run right now. Uncross your legs, sit or stand tall with shoulders relaxed. Breathe in 2,3,4… then hold breath for 2,3,4… then exhale slowly 2,3,4… then hold for 2,3,4. Feeling better? Help yourself to another one.
Do feel free to use the sketch notes – I am happy to design bespoke ones so do get in touch. I am looking forward to seeing if punctuating my day with square breaths enables me to reflect and take a moment, before launching into the next task, meeting or conversation.
Anna Baverstock @anna_annabav
Consultant Paediatrician & Lead for Doctor Wellbeing,
Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust