My daughters' lives without breathing.

JUNE  21, 2023

Halfway through my oldest daughter's first grade year, my daughter was suddenly very scared and very anxious about going to school. Nothing from our perspective had changed, we couldn't understand how someone who loved school one day, could be terrified of it the very next. My wife would have to pull our daughter from the car, and was having a hard time emotionally, but also physically because my daughter was that determined to not enter school.


I will never forget the day I took her.

My wife asked me to take her to school one morning because it was nearly impossible to get her out of the car and into school. The physical strength required to pull her from the car, and the emotional burden my wife had to bear as our daughter was kicking and crying and being pried from my wife’s arms was too much.


The day I took our daughter to school, I had to literally tear her from her car seat, kicking and screaming, walk her into the school, and ask two teachers to hold her while I pried her fingers from my clothes and arms. I am in tears thinking about this day right now.


I wish I could go back with my present-day breathwork techniques and very basic understanding of how breath can affect our nervous systems, our emotions, and our anxiety. I wish I could go back and help us both through that moment and the many that followed, as we discovered my daughter was being bullied.


My daughters’ lives without breathing.

Halfway through my oldest daughter’s first grade year, my daughter was suddenly very scared and very anxious about going to school. Nothing from our perspective had changed, we couldn’t understand how someone who loved school one day, could be terrified of it the very next. My wife would have to pull our daughter from the car, and was having a hard time emotionally, but also physically because my daughter was that determined to not enter school.

I will never forget the day I took her.

My wife asked me to take her to school one morning because it was nearly impossible to get her out of the car and into school. The physical strength required to pull her from the car, and the emotional burden my wife had to bear as our daughter was kicking and crying and being pried from my wife’s arms was too much.


The day I took our daughter to school, I had to literally tear her from her car seat, kicking and screaming, walk her into the school, and ask two teachers to hold her while I pried her fingers from my clothes and arms. I am in tears thinking about this day right now.


I wish I could go back with my present-day breathwork techniques and very basic understanding of how breath can affect our nervous systems, our emotions, and our anxiety. I wish I could go back and help us both through that moment and the many that followed, as we discovered my daughter was being bullied.

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Kids’ anxiety & depression on the rise [STUDY].

There are 73 million children aged 0-17 in the US, representing roughly 22% of the population. According to a 5-year study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics concerning recent trends in the health and wellbeing of children in the US, between 2016 and 2020, there were significant increases in children diagnosed with anxiety or depression.


“With respect to prepandemic trends, there was a significant increase in diagnosed mental health conditions, specifically a 27% increase in anxiety and a 24% increase in depression, between 2016 and 2019. These findings are consistent with reports from other data sources.23-26 The direction of these trends continued into 2020, representing 5.6 million children with diagnosed anxiety and 2.4 million children diagnosed with depression.” [1]

The anxiety returns. Plus, f-ing COVID.

Flash forward to fourth grade. We had successfully navigated the tumultuous wake of bullying and returning to school and found a way to feel safe. And things were good for a while. But there would be moments where the anxiety returned, and it all seemed to be building and intensifying. The increased demands at school, the fire drills and active shooter drills, the changing friendships, and increased awareness of self, all of it was elevating the anxiety and stress. And of course, COVID. She was dealing with all of this in fourth grade. I remember thinking, “she’s only 10, how can this be happening?”


She was struggling to sleep at night as she stressed about going to school the next morning. She was hard to reason with as we pulled up to school for drop-offs. My wife and I were worried about the short-term: was she being bullied again? Was someone else hurting her? And, we worried constantly about the long-term impact on her mental and emotional wellbeing.


This was about the time I started working for Komuso.

Suddenly I had access to tools. Tools that were free, easy to use, and instantly impactful. Even with just a cursory understanding of the why, I was able to keep a level head and eventually find a way to stay calm when confronted with an emotionally intense moment (disclaimer: my oldest daughter and I are the emotional ones in the fam, we are high reactives as Susan Cain calls it in her book, a term and concept I am grateful for). 


Once I had wrapped my head around the technique, I was able to help our family intervene, and coach both of my daughters through some simple, and very effective breath techniques.

Can a 10 year old have anxiety?

I don’t remember anxiety or depression being a thing when I was a kid. And yet, looking back, I can see clearly that I was nervous or anxious with certain recurring situations like the first day of school, cotillion, . And there are several instances, from elementary school all the way through high school, where I can confidently say I was experiencing an anxiety that was impacting how I felt about myself .


So yes, a 10 year old can experience anxiety. I remember this feeling and I’ve seen it firsthand with my daughters. 


The important thing I’ve learned to try and communicate to them is that they are experiencing an anxious moment. They are not an anxious person.


If they can understand that anxiety is normal, and it is something they can overcome, and it will not last forever, and it will not define them, they seem to relax a bit and approach the situation more logically. We can work together to reframe the situation and move from catastrophic thinking to better but believable thinking (huge thanks to our resident therapist and Komuso cofounder, DA, for this one).


This message took some time to sink in for my oldest daughter, but now that it has, she is much better at recognizing the anxiety is separate from her, it is not who she is, which makes it easier to work on.


We continue to work on anxiety as it pops up, and continue to talk about how anxiety and stress are mainstays in life. They aren’t going anywhere, so we might as well learn how to identify them, process them, and overcome them.

“Handle hard better.”

I love this quote from Kara Lawson, the Duke Women’s Basketball Coach.


Thanks to this quote, my daughters and I have been able to talk about how life doesn’t get any easier, we just get better at handling the hard things until they don’t feel hard anymore. Life doesn’t get easier, we just get stronger and more resilient.


For what it’s worth, this message has resonated with my daughters. It has given them a sense of self-confidence and agency when they get knocked down or start to feel anxiety creep in.


Now, I say “do your breathing.”

When my oldest gets nervous or anxious or stressed out, when her stomach hurts after a meal, when she is having trouble getting to sleep, all I have to say is, “do your breathing.” A back rub or a hug doesn’t hurt either.


When my youngest gets a migraine, when she is in pain after getting knocked in a soccer game, when she is nervous for a presentation, all I have to say is, “do your breathing.” Ditto on the back rub and hug.

Helping them take the guesswork out of breathwork.

When I first started with Komuso, I gave my girls Shifts for the holidays. They didn’t really understand what it was or why it worked, but they were interested because it was from my job, and they just liked the look and feel of it.


But the great thing was, they would use it. They didn’t worry about whether they were doing it correctly, they just thought they were playing with a metal straw from dad’s job. But it became a habit. First before bedtime, then in other situations, then just in general throughout the day. They naturally started breathing better, and ultimately feeling better.

And Yahtzee. They became curious. 

They started asking all kinds of questions about why it worked and when they could use it. 


They started talking about the breath with friends who were also struggling with upset stomachs and headaches and emotional regulation.


They also started learning about breathwork at school, which ultimately gave them the confidence to believe in this as a long-term tool. And yes, even my own daughters were still somewhat skeptical about the validity of all of this. I think they thought it was some kind of dad magic trick akin to dad jokes: expecting the effect would wear off eventually.

Keep going. Breathwork is a mainstay now.

Where once bedtime was exhausting and induced anxiety in my wife, my daughters, and me; where once tears were a very real possibility most nights; where I would beat myself up for the night and struggle to sleep because I had gotten wrapped up in the emotional fray; where I once had to set a timer for 7 minutes, 9 minutes, 11 minutes and so on at bed time, just to keep everyone calm, all I have to say now is “do your breathing” when tummies hurt or they are worried about the day or they struggle to get to sleep.


I still come back if they’re up, and I still rub backs when they ask, because, why not? They aren’t going to ask forever. But bedtime is so much more enjoyable, and we end the day on a positive note thanks to the simple breathwork exercises my daughters know now.


My daughters are now 12 and 10. But they started when they were 8 and 6. It’s never too early to get started. And the Shift helped immensely. And I’m not just saying that because I work at Komuso. This breathing tool helped on so many levels.


The Active Shift.

The Active Shift helps you quickly reduce anxiety by extending your exhale and slowing down your breathing pattern. Wear it at school, at the gym, exploring the outdoors, out for coffee, wherever your day takes you, make a habit of better breathing, lower anxiety, and less stress.

$142.00