I was recently at a doctor’s appointment and while he was listening to my chest he asked me to take a deep breath. I did. He asked me to take another one. I did. Then he asked me to really take a deep breath and exhale. I did. Well, I thought I did, but apparently, I’m bad at taking bad breaths and exhaling because we then engaged in a conversation about the fact that I essentially hold my breath a lot. Not hold it like you’d hold it underwater, but hold it in a sense that I don’t breathe deeply often enough.
It was a funny realization but it made complete sense. I spend most of my days racing around — from one meeting to another, from one to-do to the next, from one thought to another — and very rarely do I catch myself (or, I should say, remind myself) to take a deep breath and exhale. I don’t need a doc to tell me this is probably not a good idea or lots of studies to tell me that a constant frenzied existence that leads to lack of deep breathing will do me no good. So I’m trying to figure out how to get more exhaling into my life.
There are two things I do that always get me to exhale: Zumba (or pretty much any dancing that gets my heart pumping) and walking. There is something about dancing that requires my mind to switch off and just let go. And walking? This is my absolutely favorite “me time”. Most days I get up at 6:15 and go out for a 45 minute walk before the day gets going. I listen to music or to nothing, but there is something almost meditative about the act of putting one foot ahead of the other while inhaling fresh air. I DREAD the coming freezing cold of the winter months but am going to try to keep at it.
There is one thing that sometimes gets me to exhale: Yoga. I’m by no means a serious yogi and my yoga practice consists of a short 25-minute yoga video at home. But the one or two times a week when I manage to do it I feel pretty well exhaled at the end. I’ll admit that my mind rarely stops racing all the way while I’m doing yoga, but focusing on my breath does wonders for reminding me to breathe and try to slow down.
The other thing I’m trying to do is to take one or two short breaks during the day to go out for a quick breath of air or have a snack while not doing anything work related (reading entertainment blogs counts as not work). I’ll say that so far I am 25% successful at this but that’s something, right?
So, when do you exhale? What’s your “me time” that helps you feel a little more sane and a little less frenzied?