Take a Deep Breath…Now.

I find myself holding my breath way too frequently: when I am waiting for a decision at work to be made on a candidate I’ve presented, when my to-do list far exceeds my normal life expectancy, and when I’m particularly worried that someone will notice I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth*(ew) in my rush to get to work.

I get stressed. I get anxious. I worry, about the important stuff and the totally non-important stuff. And I just found out hey, scientifically? Holding your breath apparently just makes all of that bad stuff worse.

Apparently, all that yoga stuff and meditation nonsense has some real validity to it: beyond the allure of the “in” exercise and the promise of a smoothie afterwards, there is a lot that we can do in the way of lowering stress, reducing anxiety, and achieving mental clarity if we make a conscious effort to take long, slow deep breaths. Remember to breathe OUT all the way too, or you will defeat the purpose.

When the idiot you work with (I just assume every place has at least one) does something to frustrate you, run in the bathroom and sit for a few minutes and slow down your breathing. Make it deep and even.

When you have a report due, and Excel is kicking your proverbial ass, go outside for 5 minutes. Again, breath deeply. Even if it is ridiculously hot outside, changing your breath and your environment can really help you get a fresh perspective on your problem.

You may feel like you have no time at all to do even that much: but if you take a few moments to recharge your brain, and quiet your heart, the oxygen that you take through slow breathing has massive restorative and energizing properties. Taking a few minutes to make your mind function more effectively will ultimately save you a lot more in the long run.

And even if you’re not stressed right now? Do the breathing exercises anyway. Try to do it a few times a day – maybe treat it like endurance training. That way, you’ll totally have it down the next time the poop hits the fan and you could really use some perspective and a highly functional mind.

*as a disclaimer, I *do* keep a spare toothbrush at work for these emergencies. 🙂

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