Emotionally-Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

Calming Strategies

Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques can be used when you are feeling worried or anxious. Sometimes it is easier to have someone, like a trusted adult, to talk you through them. Try to give them a go (either with someone or by yourself) when you are feeling calm so you have lots of practice for when you need them.

Square Breathing

  • Start at the bottom left of the square and breathe in for four seconds while you outline the first side of the square by drawing up. Draw on a piece of paper, trace this picture, or use your finger to trace in the air.
  • Hold your breath for four seconds as you draw the top of the square.
  • As you draw the third side of the square, breathe out for six seconds.
  • Hold your breath for four seconds as you draw the bottom of the square.
  • Repeat the square until you feel calm.

Finger Breathing

  • Place your hand in front of you and spread your fingers slightly apart
  • Use your finger from your other hand to trace the outside of your fingers
  • When you trace up your finger take a deep breath (about 4 seconds)
  • Then breath out whilst tracing down your finger (breathe out an extra 2 seconds than you breathed in)
  • Keep repeating until you feel calmer
  • It might be easier to have someone do it with you if you find it difficult to do alone

Dragon Breathing

  • Sit with your legs crossed or kneel with your back straight
  • Imagine you are a dragon who has fire in their belly
  • Breathe in deeply through your nose
  • Breathe out through your mouth with a whispering roar while imagining the fire from your belly is going calm. Or, you can breathe out your nose while you huff like a dragon.
  • Repeat this 3-5 times

Grounding Techniques

Grounding strategies help to take your mind off difficult thoughts or feelings by focusing on what is happening in the here and now. It is important to practice these strategies when you are calm so you can choose one you find most useful to use when you need them.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This exercises uses your senses to spot details in the room. Try and find small details that you may not usually notice (e.g. small objects, things far away). Sit comfortably and answer the following questions: What are: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and take 1 deep breath.

Mental Grounding Techniques

  • Look around the room and name or count all the objects that are the same colour (e.g. all yellow items). Try finding objects that are small or far away.
  • Look around the room and find an object for each letter of the alphabet or find objects that begin with one letter (e.g. ‘P’)
  • Think of a category (e.g. animals or football players). Take a few minutes to name as many things from the category as you can.
  • Count backwards from 100 by 2. Or, make it more difficult and count back by 4 or 6.

Physical Grounding Techniques

  • Run your hands under warm or calm water. Focus on how the water feels running over your hands. How does the water move?
  • Try some stretches. Reach your hands above your head, stretching towards the ceiling. Or, move your arms in big circles at your side.
  • Take a short walk. Concentrate on how your steps feel on the pavement; is there a breeze, can your hear birds, etc.?
  • Choose a piece of food (e.g. fruit, chocolate, or a drink you like). Slowly consider how it smells, what it looks like. Then put a small amount in your mouth. What is the texture? How does it taste? Is it sweet or sour? Does it crumble or melt?
ID: 11569, revised 21/06/2024
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