So many of us run around stressed, anxious and frazzled. We’ve got too much on our plates – too many commitments, too many activities, too much information, too much on our schedule. We cannot even catch our breath.
Basically, just TOO MUCH
All of this “too much” results in shallow breathing. When our breath is shallow, it can come along with an increased heart rate, increased perspiration, feeling “hot under the collar” and racing thoughts. When we are stressed and anxious as parents, this can result in us being short-fused with our children, snapping at them and then feeling guilty afterwards.
This cycle can build on itself like an endless loop. The more stressed we feel, the more we snap and yell at our kids. And the more we snap and yell at our kids, the more stressed we feel.
And the more days that go on like this, the more “normal” this begins to feel. This becomes our new baseline of existence. Then our quality of life begins to deteriorate before our eyes without us even realizing it.
When we are stuck in this vicious cycle, we wear “busy” like our badge of honor. We must be living a valuable life because we are #so.darn.busy.all.the.time.
But sometimes, something happens to snap us out of this new baseline we have slipped into. An illness, a diagnosis, an injury, the loss of a loved one. But does it have to take that to wake us up?
I am here to say no, it does NOT.
How to Escape the Trap
There is a very simple thing that we have with us all the time. Every day, every single moment of our lives. And that is our breath. Eckhart Tolle said “one conscious breath – in and out – is a meditation.” And it is true. It only takes one breath that we are consciously focused on to begin to interrupt the pattern of the “crazy train” that has hijacked us. One solitary breath. And we all have that, right?
When we are running around and our thoughts are moving faster than we are, we become disconnected, not only from those around us but from ourselves as well. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches to “Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.”
One Breath is all it Takes
Focusing on our breath calms our minds and settles our racing thoughts. It does not necessarily stop the thoughts. But it can slow them down and allow us to recognize them as nothing more than just thoughts. Let’s imagine my client, whose daughter digs her heels in when asked to do something. Or my other client whose daughter is haunted by crippling anxiety…again. Or my other client whose son refuses to clean up his room and yells at his mom that he hates her.
Any one of us in any of those situations could be triggered and set off. We could easily slip into that downward spiral of feeling stressed, yelling at our child and then feeling guilty and stressed about what we just did.
Now imagine being that mom whose child isn’t listening or who is asking a million questions because of anxiety or is yelling at you and taking a …deep…breath…
Now imagine taking another one. And another. Do you think you would react the same way as you might have if you hadn’t interrupted the racing thoughts, the increased heart rate and increased breathing?
I guarantee you would not.
There is a fabulous breathing technique called Box Breathing. I go over this wonderful technique in my podcast that you can listen to below:
And I have also created a FREE download that you can keep with you to refer to when learning and practicing Box Breathing.
Finally, I went to the stream behind my house and recorded this short video for when you need a little “time out” in your day to relax and recharge.