London commuters are urged to stop and experience the “Room to Breathe” in Tottenham Court Road.
It is a showcase of calming images, music and breathing techniques which encourages citygoers to take a moment to focus on their breathing as a way to de-stress from the daily commute, recent heatwave and global crises.
Anxiety consultant Jayne Cox told the Standard that there has “absolutely” been a wave of anxiety following a mass return to work this year and something as simple as deep breathing can help.
“When our breath is shallow and rapid, that automatically changes our nervous system into a state of anxiety,” she said.
“The way we are breathing on a daily basis is generally giving the impression we are under anxiety indefinitely. I really encourage anyone to pause today and notice holding their breath, that’s a really common response as well.”
The Russian invasion in Ukraine or the climate crisis and more personal issues such as elderly parents or children can be stressors for commuters, she said.
Overcrowding and this week’s record-breaking temperatures would also have an impact, the consultant said.
Ms Cox is an advocate for “box breathing” where people breathe in, hold and breathe out using a four-second technique.
While mindfulness might be a buzzword right now, Ms Cox said simple breathing techniques are the best place to start.
She said: “Notice where your breath is…that’s one really simple thing…that [you] can start with.”
The new experience encourages Londoners to try it at no extra cost.
It opens on Monday at Outernet on Tottenham Court Road.
Room to Breathe will mix Pixel Artworks’ visual cues of rolling clouds, calm skies and sun with music written by Matthew Wilcock to guide city-goers to breathe using the four-second technique.
The music slowly moves from the acoustic piano through to “synthesized tones” to help users settle into the calming breath pattern.
A digital plaque will help guide people on what to do.
Pixel Artworks managing director Tom Burch said: “We felt compelled to create an experience that can help calm people’s minds and educate them on the benefits of box-breathing, arming them with tools to manage every-day stress.”
The experience will be showing at 11am-12pm, 2-3pm and 7-8pm daily for free from Monday July 25 onwards.