Learning to Breathe

I’m twenty-seven years old, and I’m just learning how to breathe.

This week has been quite chaotic – more than usual. Have you ever had a week where all of a sudden, 1,042 things had to be accomplished by 5:00pm on Friday? Well, that was me this week, although, I didn’t quite make it – I was in the office sending emails until 10:00pm last week. I stopped only when I realized that the people receiving those emails from me on a Friday evening would think that I had nothing better to do with my time, my life. Hello? Loser city.

You know the expression, “Wearing your heart on your sleeve?” Yeah, that’s like me, except I tend to wear my stress on my sleeve. This week, I’ve gotten the whole range of “Michael, are you okay?” “Is there anything you want to talk about?” and the more direct, “What’s the matter with you today?” And no, I’m not sad, I’m not upset…I’m stressed! And of course, when you go an entire day without stopping to take a deep breath (literally), of course you are going to seem frazzled and chaotic.

My favorite new look is sporting the twentysomething Einstein hair-do. My pomade seems to come undone when I’m stressed, and I’m just left with a mess of frizzy strands flying into the air. Or, maybe I just need a stronger hold hair product (does anyone have any recommendations…?)

But, all is well. I’ve learned how to breathe again.

And if you really think about it, how many times did you take a deep breath today? And if you have to think about it, you’re not doing it enough. Breath is the sustenance of life, yet, the automatic monotony of it causes us to take it for granted. So, try it with me.

Deep breath.
Hold.
Exhale.

And again.

I’ve been learning a lot about self-care lately. And no, it’s not always all about candles and tea, although, I’m going to share my own self-care routine (which does involve candles and tea). So, here are my tips for some twentysomething self-care:

  1. Breathe
    • Literally. Every time you feel stressed, stop for 10 seconds and take a deep breath. Scientific studies show that deep breathing will literally calm your brain. So, pause for 10 seconds, take a deep breath, and calm your mind.
  2. Develop a Routine
    • I’m not sure what it is about this week, but I’ve had no choice but to think and develop a self-care routine. For me, that has involved drinking lots of hot peppermint tea and lighting my Stress Relief candle from Bath & Body Works. And then if I have the emotional energy after a long day, I like to journal. And if I don’t, then I’ll rewatch an episode of Parks & Rec. It’s good to develop something that suits you, that you know will calm you down, that you can turn to when you are stressed.
  3. Balance
    • If I’m stressed about work, and I’m staying at work until 10:00pm on a Friday, that’s probably not a good idea. That’s dumb. I guess you could call me a hypocrite – or a masochist – take your pick. If you know something is stressing you out, balance that out with other activities that are more fun and relaxing.
  4. Celebrate the Journey
    • A lot of this week was spent saying, “Once this week is over…once this week is over…” Okay, well guess what? The week is over, and I could still be completely stressed. Self-care and stress don’t have a time limit. Find ways to celebrate the journey, even if it’s a completely stressful one. I am fortunate enough to have a friend at work who loves taking random walks around the park during the work day, which is a fantastic way for me to find some joy during what would otherwise be a completely stressful day.

So, although I feel much more relaxed right now (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’m writing this from a spring break trip to Costa Rica), all of this is still a learning process. I am growing as time continues, learning to stop, to enjoy the moment, and take a deep breath. Lots of deep breaths.

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