It was an early morning in April. Looking back, I remember it like it was yesterday. Following my usual morning routine, I was up at 3:30 for a morning run, followed by a strength workout and quick stretch, then it’s off to the rest of the morning; getting ready for work, tending to Brock (our family dog), and getting my boy off to school. There generally was not extra time in the morning. One thing could turn the morning in the wrong direction and set my timing off.
There was something different about this morning. I didn’t feel quite right, still tired after waking up. I got through my run but felt completely drained afterward like I could go lay down and go right back to bed. It was very unusual for me to be this sluggish feeling, but I kept going.
Leaning against the counter as Boe puts on his shoes to get ready to leave, I feel it; I can’t breathe. With only short, shallow breaths, I panic internally and start trying to walk off the feeling. Repeating the question in my head, why can’t I get a deep breath? I don’t have time for this, I think, as I picture all of the things on my schedule for the day. I still wantedTake to just crawl back in bed. Knowing full well who I am and slowing down was generally not in my vocabulary.
Boe was quickly ready to leave, and we are out the door. I drop him off and head out of town to one of my offices about an hour from the house.
It was a beautiful morning; the sunrise was gorgeous.
Turning up the music, I tried to regain some of my energy as the music played.
It was not working, barely being able to sing a couple of verses without yawing, then finally getting a deep breath in the yawn; I was exhausted in every sense of the word.
In the months to come, there were countless days like this one. Honestly, some days, I am not sure how I made it safely to my offices with how tired I was.
I forgot how to breathe (literally and figuratively)!
This was one of the times in my life that I had a serious wake-up call. I was headed down a dangerous and very unhealthy track. I was going hard and fast for so long, putting work responsibilities and the family's needs in front of myself and my health for too long. My body was starting to fight back.
It was as if it was saying, nope, you’re done, enough is enough.
We can only go hard for so long!
Looking back, it is easy in retrospect to see what was going on. It was the perfect storm; I had attached stress and worry to all areas of my life. I never wanted to let anyone down, AND I never wanted to let anyone see me in a less than a strong state. Day over day, I built up more stress; how would I build sales for our offices, can my husband and I make it through this one, am I being a good mom, and on, and on, and on…
To add to an already stressful state of mind, even during times that I could have been reviving, I would attach stress and worry about any number of things I “should have been” doing instead of relaxing.
Unfortunately, I know there are all too many people reading this that can relate.
I have done many things since this point in my life that helped me become a more balanced, happy, fulfilled woman. I’ll never allow that level of extreme stress, worry, and anxiety again in my life. No one should live under constant stress and anxiety!
There are times in life that we feel anxiety, panicked moments, or stress; this is normal and, to a small extent, healthy as it is trying to tell you something. When these things show up, ask yourself, what is my body/mind trying to tell me at this moment? What do I need to work on, or what can I learn from this moment. It may include working on breaking through fear, slowing down, re-assessing responsibilities, altogether, or something all together.
For me, the number one thing I start doing each time Anxious or panic shows up is to breathe.
I learned how to breathe and how to take a break!
Here are my two favorite techniques to calming and centering in the moment in order to take a step back and evaluate the situation and decide the best route for moving forward.
Box breathing-This deep breathing technique is excellent for reducing stress, helping during anxious moments, mediation, and more more. I could not pinpoint where it originated, but the Navy Seals have used it for many years. Start by breathing in for Four seconds, then hold for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds and hold on the exhale for four seconds.
Breathe in two breaths, then fully exhale as far as you can-I learned this one a couple years back and use it often when I need to calm/center myself in the moment. Simply take a breath in then a second breath in then breathe out as much as you can.
There are a number of breathing techniques that can help reduce anxiety. These are the two that work best for me. If you are looking for additional options, take a look at these.
When you feel stress and anxiety coming on, just breath!
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