For one to live, we must fill our lungs with air and release the carbon dioxide from within. This is a simple and usually automatic action for every living creature. So why, when we are stressed, overwhelmed or panicked do we forget to breathe.
Personally, this lapse of thought happens all too often when I run. It’s my biggest hurdle. I start off at a steady pace and if I’m feeling good, as I gain distance, I lose my mind and move faster than my body is ready for. When this happens, I start to suck air, quickly, as if I was holding it in for hours and now I’m playing catch up. My chest gets heavy and there are moments I even feel light headed. I tend to believe it’s because I suck at running, and the more strained I become, the more frustrated I get and the more strained I become, it’s the cycle of hell. At least that’s how it feels.
At the moment when I’m about to stop, give up, just sit down on the trail and call for a ride, I hear an all too familiar voice, “breathe through it.” Just when I need it most, it’s my running partner, friend and coach, “breathe through it Lisa”. It’s funny, that when we are physically strained or uncomfortable, we have a tendency to remind ourselves, or each other that the air filling our lungs will reduce the sensation of pain. However, when it’s an emotional period in our lives, we can’t seem to remember to breathe.
While I’m sure many parents out there will tell me I’m wrong, because they reminded themselves to breathe 142 times today before their head exploded due to summer vacation only being half over, I totally get it. But, what about the time when you forgot your kindergartener’s sack lunch for the field trip at the zoo, or the night you scrambled to write your final paper for school because you spent the day consoling a friend, or the time when your boss stood over your shoulder while you finished a deadline, or facing a room full at a big interview, or the day your husband came home defeated because he just got laid off, or the call that there was an accident. While each of these scenarios are on different parts of the spectrum of stress and panic, each of them, requires a “breathe” factor to break that cycle of hell we are caught in.
Sometimes that emotional moment, self-inflicted or from another source, takes us to a place where we forget that we need to fill our lungs with air so we can keep moving forward. We forget that in order to live we must breathe.
We are faced with obstacles every day, minor ones, major ones and some catastrophic, and while there are times we want to give up and sit down on the trail, a lot of times we just need to close our eyes, slowly suck in air to fill our chest, hold it just a second and remind ourselves that we are capable of much more than we realize, and at that very moment our first step is to breathe.
When we allow ourselves this breath, amazing things occur; physically our heart rate slows, and our head stops spinning, and mentally we may get just a little more clear in our reaction, solution, or perspective. It can take a few seconds or a few hours, but you’d be surprised the strength, courage and self-awareness you can find if you just Breathe Through It…
Photo Credit: Valeriia Bugaiova