We’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes these last few weeks, both in our own personal lives and in our business life. It’s been a challenge to manage everything all at once, plus some extra. We all can feel like this sometimes. Our plate gets super full and then something else gets piled on top just to add to the crazy. I like to call it burning the candle at both ends… and the middle. The middle is all that unavoidable stuff that life throws at you and now you’re at that point of sink or swim…
So how do I keep on swimming?
Every situation is different, but there is on thing that is way more powerful than we realize that will help us in any stressful moment in time… BREATH.
Our breath is actually tied to your stress response and our heart rate. Shallow breath primarily activates the top lobes (top part) of our lungs. The nerve receptors here are part of our sympathetic nervous system. That’s the flight or flight pathway that keeps our bodies firing hormones that put us into a state of stress. This is awesome to activate if we are being chased, but, most of our stress these days is not from being chased. All my yoga training and practice has emphasized awareness of my breath and it’s really amazing to notice what my breath is doing off the mat. Even if I’m having fun cooking for a big gathering, I’ve noticed that if a lot is going on all at once, it’s natural for me to slightly restrict my breath, hold my breath or breathe pretty shallow. When I catch this, one deep breath can totally take my anxiety back down to a 1.
So why does a deep breath work so well?
That big deep breath goes right into the lower lobes (bottom part) of our lungs. Down there we have nerve receptors for our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the one that slows us down and keeps our body in a more homeostatic state or “normal” state. I still get blown away at how such a simple thing can have such a dramatic effect on mood and mindset. Just one big breath! Of course, once you take that one big breath, it’s important to remember to keep those slower big breaths going. When I can get back into that nice deep, slow, rhythmic breathing everything suddenly seems manageable. The stress or the stressful situation doesn’t just disappear, but those breaths allow me to focus on what’s being done instead of get so wrapped up in my head about all the “what if’s” surrounding the situation.
One moment at a time, one thing at a time, one thought at a time is really all our brains can handle. When I operate this way, I feel like I can handle almost anything. There is a feeling of resilience that comes from within and as bad as things may seem, I know that it will shift and change and pass and what needs to get done will get done. I make it sound like I’m a pro at this and it’s so easy but I’m not and it’s not. It’s a practice. It takes a ton of self-reflection and monitoring and I’d like to think I get just a bit better at it all the time. I thought by now, I’d be a pro, but I’m not… one day… maybe
My challenge to you is to pause for a moment when things are getting tense and ask yourself if you’re taking deep breaths. Then try it. Start with one, then two, then three and then go back to what you were originally thinking about or doing. See if your breath shifted anything. Chances are, like me, every time you’ll be amazed.
Love, Love, Love