As new parents, Natalie and I are learning lots of new things. One of the most fascinating is how to calm a fussy baby. There is a pretty simple technique that works wonders. Even if you’re not a parent, you might find it interesting…here is a quick video (not the best example ever, but it works):
You follow a few simple steps, and voila, the baby stops crying! I have been really impressed by how well it works so far. Then I thought, “if only it was that easy for adults…if someone could just pick us up when we’re in a bad mood, roll us on our sides, shhhhhh in our ear, and calm us that easily, that would be awesome!”
However, the baby-calming method is not magic. It’s a physiological response. The steps you take to calm the baby are methodical and aim to make the baby feel as if she is back in the womb. This calms her, and she (almost) immediately stops crying and relaxes.
It turns out there is such a thing for adults. It’s called the “relaxation response.” Just as the baby calming technique is a natural physiological response, we can do the same thing with the adult version, the relaxation response. There have been tons of articles and even a book written on the topic. And, there are many different approaches to evoking the relaxation response. One of the easiest is to close your eyes and breathe lightly and slowly. You immediately shift from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state, allowing your whole body to relax. And just as the baby almost immediately stops crying, you almost immediately feel better and less stressed.
So the next time you notice your inner-fussy baby coming out, whether it’s from a stressful work situation or anxiety due to an upcoming event, try closing your eyes and taking a few light, slow breaths. Maybe even imagine a really fussy baby, and imagine it immediately calming down and falling asleep. Know that you can elicit that exact same response in yourself by consciously inducing the relaxation response through your breath.
In good breath,