Breathing exercise to improve mental health

May 21, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny


Mental Health charity Mind have put together a three-minute ‘breathing space’ that can help members of the boxing community look after themselves better during the Coronvirus lockdown.

The short and simple exercise, divided into three parts, can help relieve stress and anxiety in those who take part.

England Boxing is backing Mental Health Awareness Week. You can find out more by clicking here.

The three-minute breathing space

  1. Becoming aware
  • Bring yourself into the present moment adopting an alert and upright posture. If possible, close your eyes. Then, bringing your awareness to your inner experience, ask yourself, “What is my experience right now?”
  • a) What thoughts are going through my mind? As best you can, acknowledge thoughts as mental events, perhaps putting them into words.
  • b) What feelings are here? Turn towards any sense of emotional discomfort or unpleasant feelings, just acknowledging their presence.
  • c) What body sensations are here right now? Quickly scan the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing
  • Try to just acknowledge, not enter into, but just briefly register all of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations even if they are uncomfortable.
  1. Gathering
  • Then, when you are ready, gently redirect your attention to the physical sensations of the breath breathing itself.
  • Move in close to the sensations of the breath in the stomach, feeling the sensations of the stomach wall expanding as the breath comes in, and then contracting as the breath goes back out again.
  • Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out, using the breathing to anchor yourself in this present moment.
  1. Expanding
  • Now try to expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that it now includes a sense of the body as a whole; your posture and facial expression.
  • If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort, tension, or resistance, zero in on them by breathing into them on each in-breath and breathing out from them on each out-breath as you gradually try to soften and open yourself up.
  • If your mind has wandered, as minds will do, over and over and over again, very gently bring back the focus of your attention back to your breathing and then, once again, expand the field of your awareness around your breathing so that, once again, it includes a sense of the body as a whole.