For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had trouble sleeping. I shared a room with my sister throughout childhood and whilst she would fall asleep within seconds of touching her pillow, I could not. I would and still lay awake, counting sheep or doing anything I could to try and make myself get some shut-eye.
This doesn’t help with the fact that I have anxiety. I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in 2016 and although I have periods of life where my anxiety is quite manageable, there are times when my mental health can be overwhelming. I know I can’t get rid of my anxiety overnight but this year I was determined to find ways to deal with it.
The first book I read this year was The Seven-Day Stress Prescription by Elissa Epel. It touched on the importance of breathing and how breathing can help us relieve stress. Through this, I discovered the 4-7-8 breathing technique – a method which involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been critical of using breathing as a tool for dealing with anxiety. Can focusing on your breath for a few seconds really make a difference? Well, I gave the 4-7-8 method a try and I was taken aback by the results. I did indeed feel relaxed, almost instantly.
I know that breathing works but I was curious to see how technology could enhance my experience.
Enter Moonbird. It’s a small handheld device that helps people relax through breathing techniques based on scientifically proven principles and it’s the first of its kind. The device works by guiding you when to breathe whilst holding the device – it expands out for a few seconds and goes inward for another couple of seconds.
The device comes in a small little box with a list of instructions. When I opened the box the office had a MOMENT, because, let’s be real, it looks a bit like a sex toy (and it’s what my colleagues assumed it was). The oval shaped device fits perfectly into your hands. The small dent at the top is where the thumb sensor is located.
In order to switch on the Moonbird you simply give it a shake and place your thumb on the thumb sensor so it can monitor your heart rate.
Within seconds, it turned on and I placed my hand on the device and it started to expand, guiding me to breathe along with the movement the device. When the device expands, you breathe in and exhale when it contracts.
Within seconds, my mind felt relaxed and the movement of the device felt as if someone was breathing with me, which was comforting.
Each session lasts a few minutes, so I made a habit of using the Moonbird for two sessions before going to bed and in the morning before work. Though I’ve only used the device for a week, it’s made a huge difference.
The inward and outward motions make it easier to use than the 4-7-8 method. With the latter I find myself focusing on when I need to breath in, pause and exhale. Whereas the Moonbird allows you to simply follow the movement of the device.
I usually feel anxious before going to bed because of my difficulty sleeping but when I used Moonbird I felt calmer and more prepared to fall asleep.
Additionally, sometimes I find myself using the device during the day when work gets stressful as it clears my mind and helps me focus on the day ahead.
Though I enjoyed using the device, it could benefit from having timed sessions.
Ordinally I would time my sessions for 3-5 minutes but when using the device you don’t know how long a session is or when it will stop. The price point is also a bit steep not everyone will be able to spend £159 on a breathing device. But, considering it’s based on science and backed-up research it makes sense as to why it’s on the pricier side.
Breathing doesn’t magically make your stress disappear but it can make it more manageable. It grounds you and allows you to spend time with yourself, even if it’s for a few minutes. I won’t take the art of breathing for granted anymore and it’s nice to know I can take the Moonbird with me on the go – although I’ll be making it clear that it’s definitely a breathing device.
Now excuse me while I close my eyes and breathe.