Pause and Breathe

Sometimes I forget to breathe.

That statement seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? We are human beings, we breathe without requiring thought since the moment we are born, right?

When I say “breathe”, what I really mean is pausing, allowing your brain to clear and little and just simply notice that you are breathing, in and out, for just a few moments.

Photo Credit and worthwhile read
Photo Credit and worthwhile read

I’ve allowed myself to fall into the stress of life lately. It is very easy to find yourself heaping on more stress to everyday matters such as two (2) simple over-thinking pitfalls: (a) Thinking about the past and (b) Thinking about the future.

Thinking about the past (aka “regret”)…

Why didn’t I do that differently?
How did I make that mistake?
How different would today be if I made a different choice 3 years ago? Or last week? Or yesterday?
Why didn’t I get that [promotion, recognition, award] years ago?

Thinking about the future (aka “worry”)…

Over thinking things that are outside of your control
Thinking about things falling into place that haven’t happened yet
What if?
How can I control this?

Harping, nitpicking, self-bullying, – it’s all perpetuating the stress. We’re great at that, but not too many of us are great at relieving it (without the use of drugs or alcohol). It’s beyond overwhelming. So, in all of this, we forget to breathe. We forget to see things directly in front of us. And truly, we can handle the big issues directly in front of us right now much better without getting all caught up in the regret and worry crap. I have these floods all the time.

And I’m not talking about the big, noticeable events in life, we pay more attention to those on a case-by-case basis. Those are easy to identify and address It’s the multitude of little things that pile and pile and pile up. Especially lately, I find that I look at the piles of work on my desk, the level of anxiety (in addition to the volume) of work and everyday life lately, the parenting stuff, money, relationships, EVERYTHING! There are little signs of inattentiveness, knocking over my coffee mug 3 times per day, walking into the supply room not sure what I came in for, getting multiple cups of water and leaving them scattered around somewhere. Sometimes, it’s the cascade of those little things that bring you to the point where you want to bang your head against the wall and scream. Am I right?

And as a working mom, the work stress doesn’t fade into calm serenity when you leave the office and walk into the front door, does it? The last thing I want is to walk into my house all wound up after not seeing my boys all day and be just one single “oooooh Moooommmmy” away from full detonation.  With all of the external content flying 100 miles per hour, I am getting better (not perfect) at recognizing the need to simply PAUSE and BREATHE.

Just today when I couldn’t figure out which fire to put out at work, I felt immobile and almost stunned because there were too many things that were URGENT! As I stared down at my keyboard  thinking about what to do next, I saw this out of the corner of my eye…


PIc by H Robinson
Pic by H Robinson

This was a little gift from someone who knows me very, very well. The “HERE & NOW” message is something I want to tattoo on me. It’s that reminder that what matters the most and what should be the focus of your thoughts is what is directly in front of you: right here, right now.

I truly believe that everyone needs their “HERE & NOW” moment. I’d even call it a “PAUSE AND BREATHE” thing. A hobby, escape, moment, whatever it is, that brings them back to the HERE and NOW. Maybe it’s knitting, reading, rainbow looming, listening to music, sitting in your car in silence for 5 minutes, sitting on a bench watching kids play, taking a bubble bath, etc.

Your PAUSE and BREATHE thing: Something that gives you pure, quiet, mindful peace where you are focusing on the moment, not the 100 mile per hour thoughts racing through your head. Something that helps you push that “refresh” button.

For me, it’s more than one cure but sometimes it’s simply stepping outside my office building, putting my headphones on to Diane Krall and watching a leaf blow in the wind for 5 minutes. I’m not thinking about the noise of the cars driving by, the dirtiness of the snow, the crappy shoveling job by our maintenance crew, the bills I have to pay, the emails I need to answer, the phone calls I don’t want to make. I’m simply hearing music and focusing on a leaf blowing.

It may sound stupid, but everyone’s PAUSE and BREATHE moment is different. And no one’s is stupid.I’m just reminding you to allow yourself that moment. If it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 60 minutes per day, do you allow yourself an opportunity to PAUSE and BREATHE?

If not, maybe it’s time to give it a try.

For other posts in our “Reduce Stress and Find Inner Peace” mini-series or on mindfulness, check out the following:

Reduce Stress and Find Inner Peace – A New Mini-Series

Why I Chose Mindfulness

My Journey – Pivotal Moments

Mindfulness and Leadership

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