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Connection Corner

Deep breathing for mental health

photo of the palm of a hand with fingers spread

Take a deep breath…

Now take one more…

How do you feel? Do you notice any difference in your mind or body? Maybe you feel just a little bit more relaxed. Or grounded. Or ready to continue on with the task at hand. Deep breathing can have positive effects on our mental wellbeing by triggering a relaxation response in our minds and bodies. This, in turn, can help us manage symptoms of stress, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health challenges.

And since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a great time to take care of your own mental health with some deep breathing exercises. Try this one on your own or with the whole family:

5 Finger Breathing

Step 1: Open your left hand in front of you. Place your right index finger on the inside of your left wrist. Very slowly, begin tracing your right finger up your left thumb as you inhale.

Step 2: Exhale as you trace down the inside of your left thumb.

Step 3: Continue slowly tracing the fingers on your left hand with your right index finger, with inhales matching the upward motions, and exhales matching the downward motions.

Step 4: When you've finished, reverse direction and breathe some more, starting with your pinkie

Remember, mental health challenges are very real. An estimated 1 in 5 Americans experiences mental illness and recovery is possible. If you’re interested in learning more about Mental Health Awareness Month, or how mental health challenges can affect those around us, take a look at the resources below.



Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.  

She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.    

When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.  


Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.