Many people struggle to sleep, with stresses like the cost of living crisis, among others, causing the kind of anxiety that makes it hard for them to relax.
In fact, according to Mattress Online, one in three people in the UK suffer from insomnia, which means a third of them are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
Now, the company’s sleep experts have collaborated with hypnotherapist Clare Longstaffe to share tips on how to use self-hypnosis to help you calm down during times of anxiety.
This is something Clare is an expert at, as she is a Lead Hypnotherapist with the charity Cavendish Cancer Care, where she has developed a number of different finger breathing techniques to help both patients and their loved ones cope with the shock of cancer.
Together, they’ve compiled tips on the meditative practice known as “finger breathing,” a quick and easy self-hypnosis method that can calm your nerves and help you catch up on sleep…
With around a third of people in the UK struggling with insomnia, experts have compiled a list of steps to help you with the ‘finger breathing’ self-hypnosis technique (stock image)
What is finger breathing?
According to experts: ‘Finger breathing is a form of self-hypnosis that can be used to return you to a calmer, more rational state of mind during times of anxiety or restlessness.
“It’s all about a combination of touch and controlled breathing, going through a series of finger grips and hand movements while concentrating on taking a deep breath in and out.”
They add that studies have found that effectively controlling your breathing does more than just help you mentally relax.
It can, they claim, promote the release of melatonin, which is the “hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain that is responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm and managing your natural sleep cycle.”
How to do finger breathing
Working with Cavendish, the sleep experts at Mattress Online have compiled a five-step guide on how you can incorporate finger breathing into your own routine.
Step 1: Start by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Relax your breath by inhaling deeper and slower than you normally would.
According to experts, studies have found that effective breath control can help you relax during times of stress.
Step 2 – Bring the fingers and thumb of one hand together in a pinched and relaxed position. With the other hand, cup and rest loosely the tips of the bunched fingers in the palm of the hand. Count five relaxed breaths while keeping your hands in this position.
Step 3: Switch hands and count five breaths again.
Step 4: Next, do a thumbs up with one hand, and then wrap the fingers of the other hand around the opposite thumb. Hold your thumb loosely for a count of 5 relaxed breaths. Then switch hands and count five breaths again.
Step 5: Repeat this process on the rest of your fingers, i.e. wrap the fingers of one hand around your opposite index finger and hold for 5 relaxed breaths, before switching hands and repeating the process.
Stress can affect the way we breathe, say experts, who recommend planning to practice breathing regularly when you’re not overly stressed.
Speaking about the technique, Chloe Angus, Cavendish’s Corporate Wellness Manager, described how stress can affect the way we breathe.
He explained: “Our innate fight-flight stress response can cause us to automatically speed up or hold our breath in times of stress or general ‘busy’ and most of the time we don’t realize it until we start to feel tension.”
He added that during times of stress, if we can become aware of our breathing and focus on slowing down and relaxing into our breathing, it can be helpful to rest and digest.
Chloe continued: ‘Creating the habit of paying attention to our breath at different times of the day can help manage emotions and stress, giving us moments to pause and refocus on the present moment.
We recommend planning to practice breathing regularly when you are not stressed, if something is familiar to us, we are more likely to remember to use it when we need it most.