So How Do You “Just Breathe?” 3 Tips For Relaxation

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, relaxation can seem like an out-of-reach fantasy. If your friends and family have ever told you to “just breathe,” they were right. “Just breathing” is often the first step in learning how to relax spontaneously, but it takes a little practice.
Relaxation happens quickly, even after only a few minutes. Focused concentration on breathing by itself is a simple and profoundly effective relaxation technique that can be done nearly any time you have a few minutes — while waiting at a stoplight, during a break at the office, or while waiting for water to boil.
Breathing is unique in that it’s an automatic response that can also be controlled with voluntary actions. When we control our breathing it ties into other autonomic responses. Slowing the rate of breathing is associated with a decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and — very importantly — decreased adrenaline levels. Slowed breathing also is associated with increased production of endorphins, those wonderful internal chemicals that improve our sense of wellbeing.
Most of us breathe with our chest muscles. The more uptight we are, the shorter and shallower the breath becomes, and the more tension there is in the shoulders and neck. When relaxed, we use abdominal breathing: instead of using the chest wall muscles, we’re then using mainly the diaphragm.
You may have heard someone tell you to “just breathe,” but if you’re wondering how to do that — you’re breathing all the time, right? — here are three simple ways to start you on the path to relaxation:
1. Practice abdominal breathing. 
Start by first lying comfortably on your back. Control and slow your breathing to an easy rhythm. Place one hand on the abdomen, close to the belly button. As you breathe, try to keep the chest wall still and pull air into the lungs by expanding the abdominal muscles. Your hand should rise and fall with each breath. Breathing should be done through the nose, not through the mouth. Inhalations and exhalations should be equal.
2. Learn to slow your breath. 
Using abdominal breathing, try to extend your breath for as long as possible without holding your breath. Inspiration and expiration should be equal. On your first attempts, your inspiration and expiration will be about 5-7 seconds each, but your goal is to extend each to 15 seconds, resulting in only 2 complete breaths in one minute. Don’t strain. Make it easy and comfortable. Work up to 15 seconds slowly. You can practice this one anywhere, even at a stoplight.
3. Count to 10: 
Another simple breathing exercise is sequential count-to-10. Using abdominal breathing of normal length, begin counting each breath. Count first to up to 2 and then start over, 1-2-3. Continue with 1-2-3-4, and so forth, up to the sequence 1-10. It takes more concentration than you can imagine. Completion of two sequences of 10 often results in deep relaxation with lowered pulse rate and normalized blood pressure. This is also a great exercise to improve focus.
Article courtesy DR. WILLIAM RAWLS

There is only one me!

Nicole Andrews
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program


Welcome to the New Year! Many of you at this time make resolutions and set goals for yourselves. Maybe it’s to de- home, or to eat healthier, or to lose a few extra pounds from all the Christmas baking. Often you are gung-ho to start the New Year off with your best foot forward and you have a ‘to-do list’ of your goals for the year.  You have the best intentions but that’s where it starts . . .  and ends.

The New Year is a great time to get all jazzed up about your goals but it is also a very emotional time. You’ve just finished Christmas and family and overwhelming deadlines and a social calendar you needed a personal assistant to help you navigate.

Depression is also much more evident at this time of year.  There is less natural sunlight and leaving in the morning in the dark and coming home in the dark plays on your natural sleep/wake (circadian rhythm).

There are also less local, accessible and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables that help keep your immune system functioning at its best. Which leads to the cold and flu season. We all know that it’s really hard to feel good when you are feeling sick!

Finally, there is the financial drain of the New Year. Annual dues for memberships, monthly bills, Christmas and travel and presents drained your bank account and if you are on Income Assistance, it’s a loooong month between cheques.

What if you started the New Year out thinking about yourself and realized that there is only one you! That you want the year to be amazing! The best ever! But that baby steps are O.K. That setting yourself up for success instead of failure in a few weeks is a better approach. What if you started small and took great pride in the accomplishment of a small goal realized?

So here is my suggestion to you: start small this New Year.

  • Step one; make a list of goals.
  • Step two; organize them into short-term and long term.
  • Step three; look at the ones that are really do-able within a week and start with those.

Start with simple, achievable steps. Maybe step one is getting a calendar this week to start getting more organized this year. Maybe it’s going to bed at 11 instead of midnight 2 nights this week so you can experience the feeling of what an extra hour of sleep at night really feels like. Maybe its trying to make sure that in each meal there is at least one fresh fruit or vegetable so that your body and brain are getting optimal fuel before you set your sights on loosing those extra pounds.

It’s a hard time of year, and being hard on yourself because you can’t meet your goals can turn a wonderful fresh start into a negative, depressing and unrealistic beginning to the year. Move slowly and set your sights on attainable goals. Celebrate your success and you will be your best advocate! You will feel good. You will feel accomplished! You will be motivated to tackle the next goal on your list. Celebrate you this year and all that you are.  You are many things to many people but you can be your biggest obstacle or your biggest advocate, motivator, and cheerleader.

I’m cheering for you!

Building Futures for Young Parents





B.C. Council for Families –  Alliance for Young Parents has created these  amazing short videos that take a look at the challenges facing vulnerable young families and the successes they can achieve with the support of a Young Parent Program. Whether you want to learn more about the services and supports available to young parents in BC, or find a powerful new way to share the work that young parent programs do…look no further.

Teen parents and their children are among BC’s most vulnerable families. The challenges these families face can seem almost insurmountable. One thing can help make a difference in their lives and their futures: education. When teen parents are able to complete high school, their children face a brighter future. That’s why the more than forty young parent programs in BC today are so crucial.

Article courtesy BC Council for Families

A Little Help from Our Friends – The United Way of Greater Victoria Supports the Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program

On May 26th the United Way of Greater Victoria announced a grant of over $7,000 of Innovation and Investment Funding to support the expansion of The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program.

The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP) supports young moms (ages 16 to 24 years) to create stable, safe, healthy lives for themselves and their children.  This funding will allow the program to expand and serve ten additional clients.

In June of 2010 The Cridge Centre for the Family closed its supported daycare for young parents at Victoria High School due to lack of funding. One month later, with the children, staff and parents from that defunct service incorporated into The Cridge Childcare Centre, The Cridge Centre launched The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program – a portable, practical program of support and advocacy for young moms and dads, young parents to be, and their children from across the capital region.

A year later, Young Parent Support Worker Nicole Andrews supports more than 26 clients and their children, promotes the program, and connects with other service providers in the region to ensure young parents have access to a full slate of services. The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program is already highly regarded in the broader Victoria community as an effective, self-directed support program for young parents.

The Cridge YPOP provides responsive support that is entirely client directed and is not restricted to young parents from any one school, childcare centre or agency. This is a different model of service to young parents than is offered by the supported daycare model.

The generous funding from the United Way of Greater Victoria will allow us to extend this support to more parents, making a significant difference in the lives of young parents and their children.