You get to your place of work. Parking your car you notice the time on your dashboard and you’re barely on time. You were hoping to come in early to prepare for a presentation to give at a quarter past the hour. So you feel a little rushed, but at least you are on time and not late. Just as you slam the car door shut…actually, it’s the in-between time from releasing the door to when it shuts…you realize you left your keys in the ignition. SLAM! Your car keys are locked in your car but you don’t have time to deal with whom to call to come get your keys out. You have a meeting your speaking at in less than 15 minutes. You decide to deal with it after the presentation. On your way to your office you swing by the break room to pick up a cup of coffee. The wall clock shows you have 5 minutes to pick up whatever materials you need, from your office, before heading to the conference room. As your taking your first sip of java—-oops! A coworker bumps into you and your nice hot cup of coffee spills all over your blouse or shirt. Wiping the liquid off, you manage to get the materials from your office and head to the conference room. Visions of giving an important presentation with a coffee stain in full view embarrasses you. Then you have that familiar feeling————-your stressed out!
Similar scenarios have happened to me. One thing after another, and another, and another just pile up. And when there’s a deadline involved..yikes! I know for me, neck and shoulders tense up, my adrenaline is flowing, my heart’s racing, all of this while I feel perspiration under my arms and across my forehead. I get irritable but, because it’s a formal situation, can’t express the frustration and anger.
Then victimhood moves into my brain’s neighborhood. “Why does this always happen to ME?” “It never fails. There’s always something that happens when I’m about to do something important.”
I use to wonder ‘how can I manage this onslaught of life’s events’?
Then I discovered…to BREATHE. No matter how rushed you are, it’s possible to take a quick ‘time out’ and inhale slowly, filling your lungs to capacity, then slowly exhale. Doing something so simple can help “reset” the moment. Putting your system on “pause” can slow down the momentum of life’s onslaught of events, helping to take the edge off.
Remember to SLOWLY fill your tummy with air first and then continue on up your lungs, taking in as much as comfortably possible. Then release the air in reverse order. Slowly exhaling the air from the lungs and then out of the abdomen. Pause….repeat again. But this time, pause a moment or two between the inhale and exhale. If you must, do it again.
Did you know when exhaling it’s mentally impossible to think a thought? That brain noise ceases to exist for a moment. Often it only takes that brief period for your whole system to regroup and reset your thoughts and feelings. In the above scenario, when picking up the materials in your office, right after the coffee spill and before heading off to the meeting, it would’ve been the right time to drop everything and spend 30 to 60 seconds resetting through slowly breathing. Consciously breathing, and slowly at that, brings me back into the “moment” without thoughts of past or future events. Instead of going into “Why me?” that simple act can help put things into proper perspective.
In the conference room, instead of worrying how I would look to others with a big stain and wishing it would go away, perhaps I would address the ‘elephant in the room’ and refer to it. I’d point to it and comment, “I bumped into someone while having coffee. My shirt is more awake than I am so my shirt will be doing the presentation this morning.” Having to bring everyone’s attention to it WILLINGLY takes away the embarrassment and discomfort of having to talk with a noticeable stain, therefore, having everyone focus on your presentation instead of the stain. Not to mention the awkwardness is removed from your mind so you’re able to give them your full attention.
The meeting is finished and all went well. After returning to the office, perhaps I would take a couple more of conscious, slow breaths and ‘exhale’ the residue of the meeting out of my system. Then call AAA or a locksmith to arrange a time to fetch my keys out of my locked car. Doing this simple technique of breathing will also prevent me from taking out these mishaps out on another coworker or, more importantly, holding it all in for the rest of the work day only to take it out on a loved one when I get home.
The kids are running around playing and screaming, the dog’s barking, the T.V. is on too loud?….BREATHE.
Standing and waiting forever in line at the market?……BREATHE.
Stuck in traffic?…….BREATHE.
It’s simple, takes a moment of your time, and effective. Try it. BREATHE. It’s a beautiful thing.
with love and respect,