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4a: Balancing the Nervous System

Background: Our sympathetic nervous system acts like the accelerator on a car, and our parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. These two parts need to work in tandem to keep us moving forward. Learning when and how to accelerate and decelerate can help us stay healthy and focused.

Today in Class: We practiced 5-5-5 breathing. We breathed slowly in our nose for a count of 5, then slowly out our mouths for 5 more seconds, and then paused for 5 seconds. We continued this pattern for a minute (four deep breaths in total). Afterward, we noted how we felt (calmer) and discussed how this breathing technique can help us balance our nervous systems.

Self-Reflection: Try 5-5-5 breathing. Note how you are feeling. Breathe in for 5, breathe out for 5, and wait for 5. Now note how you feel. Use this strategy for fifteen seconds or a whole minute when you need to recenter.

At-Home Support

Discuss 5-5-5 breathing with your child:

  1. Your teacher said you did 5-5-5 breathing today to help balance your nervous system. What is that? (Breathe in for 5, breathe out for 5, and wait for 5.)
  2. Can you show me how this works?
  3. How does it make you feel?
  4. I'm feeling _____________, so I'd like to try 5-5-5- breathing. Can you talk me through it? (Try the breathing technique.)
  5. Now I feel ______________.
  6. Thank you for teaching me that. I'm going to use 5-5-5 breathing whenever I need to calm down. I hope you do, too.