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Summer Fields Oxford

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A stress free Christmas

Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but it can also come with a huge amount of stress. As part of our 'Zones of regulation' programme we've been teaching our pupils some simple breathing exercises to help them reduce anxiety. Astutely, they recognised that these can be used to help them and their family have a less stressful Christmas this year.

Because of this, we thought that we would share these techniques, so everyone can benefit. These three breathing exercises are designed to shift thoughts, feelings and emotions from the 'Yellow' zone of heightened alertness and stress to the calming 'Green' zone. They are great for calming children down before bed or helping them focus on the here and now when they are feeling anxious.

Technique 1 - Five-finger breathing

Step 1: Place the index finger of one hand on the outside of the thumb on your other hand. As you breathe in, trace up to the tip of your thumb, and as you breathe out, trace down the inside of your thumb.

Step 2: On your next inhale, trace up the outside of your first finger, and on the exhale, trace down the inside of your first finger.

Step 3: Continue finger by finger until you’ve traced your entire hand.

Step 4: Reverse the process and trace from your little finger to your thumb

Technique 2 - Infinity or lazy 8 breathing

Step 1: Start by thinking of an 8 on its side.

Step 2: Take your finger and place it in the middle of the 8.

Step 3: Now go up to the left and trace the left part of the 8 with your finger while you breathe in.

Step 4: When you get to the middle of the 8 again, breathe out while you trace the right part of the 8 with your finger.


Technique 3 - Box breathing

Consists of 4-second rotations of breathing in, holding your breath, breathing out, holding your breath, and repeating.

Box breathing is also known as the Navy SEAL breathing technique or square breathing, and it’s a surprisingly simple way to calm down and feel great.



This term our pupils have found these techniques really useful in helping them manage their school life. See some of their comments below.

When I was feeling homesick, I used finger breathing to calm me down. I really like this method.

If there is a situation when I feel down, I use infinity breathing. It really calms me down as I am concentrating on the steps of the breathing only. It distracts me from what I’m feeling sad about.

Before tests, like maybe the ISEB, I am going to use box breathing to calm me down. It brings my heart rate right down and makes me calm and focussed.’

We wish you a calm and peaceful Christmas and New Year. For children and parents wanting to find out more, we recommend