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3 Minute Breathing Space (a Practice Guide) | HFNE

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

3 minute breathing space

In the next article, you are going to learn how to practice the 3 minute breathing space, and some basic knowledge about using breathing techniques. 

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

3 minute breathing space

The 3 minute breathing space is a classic technique used to generate a moment of tranquility and comfort, in order to face the sensations produced by the challenges of daily life. 3 minute breathing space emerged from some elements of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy.

3 minute breathing space, as well as other techniques, have been based on mindfulness, guided meditation, among others, since they have been shown to be helpful under certain circumstances. Finding space and time, even short periods, for your well-being is going to be helpful for your mental health. 

Three simple steps: summarizing 

  1. Bring your attention to your own inner experience. Prepare yourself for a proper and mindful space.
  2. Use your attention to feel the breath. 
  3. Pay close attention to your body. 

The following is a detailed description of how to put the above simple steps into practice. Get focused! 

What do I need to practice 3 minute breathing space?

As mentioned previously, this is a tool created for easy use, so in terms of resources all you need is 3 minutes and your own willingness to perform the exercise. Here are some of the key elements to do it correctly, so get ready! You have to follow step-by-step, in order to get the most qualify moment for your well-being. 

Proper posture

A proper posture is one with which you feel comfortable. Try to stretch your spine and take a position that gives you a soft feeling in your posture. You can do a quick exercise to stretch your hands and feet so that they are more relaxed and willing. Your muscles should be relaxed and your whole body should feel like something peaceful is going to happen. Avoid uncomfortable positions or places where your body has any pressure.  

Your attention should be on your breathing 

Remember that our attention is constantly travelling back and forth, as we are exposed to different stimuli in daily life. Our point of focus remains for a few minutes on one element, but will later shift to another. We have some conscious control over attention, but this control is not total. 

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

For the correct use of 3 minute breathing space, it is necessary that you make the effort to bring your attention to the inside of yourself, what you are feeling and what your body is experiencing, especially the breathing. You must realize how the air flows between the outside and your body. 

Breathe in, gently (you don’t need to do it harder or more intensely), and watch and feel the air entering your body slowly. Then, push the air in a little bit, so that it reaches your lungs. Finally, exhale gently, feeling the air leaving your body and creating a sense of well-being. 

Notice what is happening inside your body

Every second in your body many things are happening simultaneously. Feel the pressure of your feet on the floor or on any other surface you’re standing on, the slight wetness in your hands from the activity you’re doing, what’s in front of your eyes – their colors, their texture, their slight movements. 

Then, notice how thoughts are appearing in your mind unnoticed. Your body experiences the world, and also generates ideas about it. Try just to observe these thoughts, without following them or getting attached to them. Notice how more and more thoughts may come up as time goes by. 

Finally, notice your inner self and try to read the feelings you are experiencing at that moment. Don’t struggle to understand what they mean, just read each one and its qualities; every characteristic of them that you can read will be an achievement. Don’t get carried away with these feelings, just observe them. 

Move your attention and practice expansion 

Your attention may be focused only on some of the sensations, thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. Our mind “likes” order, predictability and control over what enters our bodies. Try to expand your self-reading and take it to as many places in your body as possible. The main goal here is to avoid focal points of stress or anything similar. 

Why practice 3 minute breathing space?

Who hasn’t ever felt that life’s situations are getting too heavy? who hasn’t experienced that it takes very little to lose control of one’s actions? have you ever been in a situation where it seems like you won’t be able to react in a calm manner? These and other questions are very common to almost every human being. We and our environments are changing and sometimes we experience some negative consequences. 

The above questions are part of everyday life; we all face situations that seem to overwhelm us. 3 minute breathing space is an attempt to respond, in a practical and flexible way, to such difficulties, providing some steps that can be learned easily and can be put into practice quickly.

You should not feel guilty or sorry if at some point in your life you need to take a break and breathe. We all need it sometimes to cope with everyday situations. 3 minute breathing space is a good alternative and, above all, can be used very easily by almost anyone. 

Stress and anxiety: two daily meters

Stress and anxiety are part of a set of normal psychological responses available to human beings, with specific functions and characteristics that can be differentiated. This means that all human beings, under normal conditions, experience stress and anxiety at certain times in our lives. 

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

Stress, in the first place, is a constant measure of our effort in the face of some external stimulus, as well as the “burden” it exerts on us and our psychological resources. It can be understood as a basic tension that the body experiences when involved in different activities. 

Each of us can take advantage of stress to read and understand how much “weight” we are putting on ourselves at any given time. For example, when entering a new job it will be common for our stress level to rise beyond everyday levels. Our body (which obviously includes our psychological resources) is being subjected to new burdens or weights, to which it was not accustomed. 

Anxiety, on the other hand, is characterized by a feeling of anticipation. Anxiety is related to the future. While stress refers to the burdens or stresses that the body is experiencing, de facto, in the present moment, anxiety refers to what the body experiences when we are trying to assume or prepare for what is to come. 

Anxiety also often changes under certain circumstances, which are normal and expected. If I am going to undergo a medium-complexity surgery next week, it is absolutely normal that my anxiety levels will rise and I will experience more frequently and/or intensely some fear of the future and what is to come. 

Anxiety is a meter that informs us that the body is preparing for a future event. In addition, when it is effectively regulated we use it to motivate us to plan and have elements ready for the future. If we never felt anxiety, we might have trouble facing new situations.

I’m stressed out, do I need to practice 3 minute breathing space?

Before answering this question, you should ask yourself if you are stressed in a normal way, that is, how you usually are, or if your levels are high. If they are high, is there a new situation that might explain it? If not, maybe it is appropriate to practice 3 minute breathing space. 

When our stress levels don’t decrease, something might be happening. A first step could be to perform the three simple steps just mentioned, and with that your level of emotional activation should decrease at least a little. If, despite practicing 3 minute breathing space, your stress level does not drop, you should seek help from a specialist. 

I am anxious, do I need to practice 3 minute breathing space?

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

As we saw in the previous space, you should ask yourself if your activation levels are altered, if they differ from normal. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you see that your anxiety levels are altered, and there is no relevant situation in the future that is making you uneasy, or that does so abnormally, you should practice 3 minute breathing space. 

Anxiety is usually experienced for short periods of time, not for a long time or chronically. 3 minute breathing space can give you the space to focus your attention, breathe and be aware of what is happening, while decreasing your feeling of discomfort and bringing it to a more balanced point. 

Conclusion 

3 Minutes Breathing Space is a mindfulness-based tool used to cope with the stress and feeling of high activation that can be experienced in everyday life. Its benefits are high if practiced properly and consistently. 

It is absolutely normal for emotional activation levels to be higher at times. The important thing is to realize this and do something about it. 3 minute breathing space is a quick and easy alternative. Remember that you should consult a specialist if this technique is not sufficient and you are overwhelmed by your emotions. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about 3 minute breathing space 

Do only people who have a mental illness practice 3 minute breathing space?

No. People who have an illness are not the only ones who can (or would benefit from) practicing 3 minute breathing space. This is a tool that can help anyone regulate their emotional activation in daily life and gain some comfort and peace of mind. 

Can I really get any benefit from practicing something as simple as 3 minute breathing space?

Yes, being a mindfulness-based tool, 3 minute breathing space has been shown to help people when they feel that their levels of stress, anxiety, etc. are too high and are overtaking them. 

Do I need more materials to practice 3 minute breathing space?

You do not need additional materials to perform a 3 minute breathing space. This is a technique for which you only need some time (it’s really very little time) and a relatively quiet space for the exercise. 

Is it difficult to practice 3 minute breathing space?

Practicing 3 minute breathing space is very simple. You just need to learn and practice the three steps in this short guide properly. As you practice them, you will find that it is quite easy to use it at almost any time in your daily life. 


Recommended resources 

  1. 3-Minute Breathing Space
  2. The 3-Minute Breathing Space [APP]
  3. Three-Minute Breathing Space [Audio]

References

  1. 3 Minute Breathing Space Meditation
  2. Mindfulness for Health: A practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing

3 minute breathing space (a practice guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

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