Female friends by the sea

Helen Gaskin, founder of Mindfit Cornwall, shares the importance of taking a pause and breathing.

Remember to take a pause

As we embark on a New Year the importance of looking after your whole wellness is crucial to good health; our mental, physical and emotional health is all connected and taking exercise, especially outdoors, and eating a healthy diet are important along with taking breaks to pause, reflect and breathe. These mini pauses throughout the day can be as little as two minutes, just pause and take some slow deep breaths.

How does this work?

Breathing techniques will calm your nervous system, help you to self-regulate and bring awareness to your whole wellbeing. You can learn how to use your breath well to support your nervous system, relieve anxiety and stress. Learning how to regulate and breathe well provides this wonderful tool to calm your nervous system. As you slowly inhale and exhale you activate your parasympathetic state of the nervous system, connecting the mind and the body in this rest and digest. This in turn brings improved wellness.

Try the following breathing exercises

  1. The Physiological Sigh: inhale through the nose, inhale a little more through the nose and slowly exhale a sigh out of your mouth. Do this five times. Feel the release on the exhale.
  2. The Calming Breath: Inhale through the nose for a count of four and then exhale through the mouth for around eight counts. So double exhale to the inhale. Repeat 8 times. This activates the vagus nerve and brings a lovely sense of calm to the body. and mind.
  3. The Optimal Breath: this is how we should be breathing most of the time. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4/5 and out through the nose for a count of 4/5. When you breathe feel the width of the breath so you are using your diaphragm correctly, the ribs expand around into your back. So the breath is 360 degrees – going out rather than up. Repeat for a few minutes.

Just take a pause, go outside or away from your desk and go through these little breathing exercises to calm your nervous system and rest yourself. If you practise them every few hours it becomes part of your routine and remember your breath can be the remote control to your nervous system and bring you into a calm state even if your mind is trying to tell you otherwise.

Be Present

Prioritising good emotional health provides you with the ability to calm down and understand your feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Just by taking the pause and bringing yourself back into the present moment you can feel more connected and relaxed. Sometimes our inner narrative can have our mind racing and dysregulate our nervous system; we need to catch ourselves and see if we can speak to ourselves in a kind and supportive way. If we find ourselves over-questioning and putting ourselves down – just breathe, come back to the present and offer yourself some gentle compassion. The more we practice this, along with gratitude, the stronger and more balanced we will become.

Learn to Relax

At the end of your day, aim to switch off your phone and electronics a good hour before bedtime. Have a bath with some lovely essential oils, stretch out on the floor and breathe slowly and deeply. You could try just doing a slow body scan just closing your eyes and relaxing each part of your body. There are also some lovely meditations you can follow as well.

How can I lift my energy?

Some people find they are not in an anxious state but they have become overwhelmed to the point of being in a slightly depressed and in a freeze state. If this is you and you struggle to get up in the morning, set yourself a routine. Having a shower, stretching the body, jumping up and down on the spot and tapping your body can all lift your energy and shift the flatness. Also reminding yourself of something you are grateful for like that first hot drink of the day, seeing the sea on the way to work or the lovely friend you are seeing later. Again, the more you practice this the easier it becomes.

Finally connect with other people. It is so important to be around people who support and lift you. Try to arrange a catch up with a friend, start a new course/hobby and find some like-minded people. Have an open mind and be prepared to try something new. Remember to listen well: it is such an important skill that we all sometimes forget to do as we want to speak back but actually listen and reflect on how different this feels.


Helen Gaskin founder of Mindfit Cornwall offers mini retreat days at some beautiful venues around Cornwall, breathing and relaxation courses and evenings as well as one-to-one coaching sessions. Mindfit also offer workplace wellness lunchtimes, half days and full days. Along with other business coaches, Mindfit offers workplace team events incorporating ‘Wellness activities. For the full range of their offering visit mindfitcornwall.co.uk or email mindfitcornwall@gmail.com or telephone 07525 420104.

Their next Wellness mini retreat morning is Sunday 14th January 10am to 1pm at the Limehouse Yoga Studio and the next Breathe and relax evening is Tuesday 16th January 7.45 to 9pm. More information is available on their website.