Just Breathe

Adding home relocation to an already busy schedule has made me recognize all over again the preciousness of time!  The extra demand on our time has also made me that much more aware of my own physical and emotional response to stress, as well as an interested observer of other’s reactions.

This last week I saw what I can only assume (hope!) was an example of someone finally tipping over the edge of reason when the “final straw” was added to a large pile of frustrations.  A pick-up truck was trying to get across two lanes of busy traffic and had to inch into the second lane in order to see if anyone was coming. There was and the lady in that SUV was beyond angry at the truck driver. She followed him for about three blocks, sitting on her horn the whole way. She then proceeded to cut me off so she could get next to the truck, roll down her windows and scream at the top of her lungs.  I shook my head in disbelief and then started wondering just what else was going on in her life to make her that angry.

Of course, I have also been guilty of over-reacting to a small frustration.  When I am tired, when I skip a meal, when I don’t take my mental breaks, when I don’t allow myself “just in case” time or when I’ve been given bad or disappointing news, it is tempting to just give in to the frustration and take it out on someone else.

Of course, “losing it” doesn’t fix anything. Instead it usually makes things that much worse!  So what do I do when I feel myself starting to lose control?

I breathe!  Deep, long breaths followed by a long, slow exhale. This can be done in traffic, at the office, anywhere and it’s free.  Concentrating on something as simple and basic as breathing helps me gain control over my emotions.  Breathing deeply helps to deactivate the stress response and activate feelings of relaxation.  And then, when my emotions are back under control, it is easier to put the situation into perspective.  What is the real, long-term impact of the situation?  And what can I do to eliminate or reduce reoccurrence?  I’m not able to answer any of those questions while my emotions are running out of control.

Whatever frustration you are faced with, the one thing that you have absolute control over is your response to the situation.   You can choose to let it control you or you can breathe deep and put it in perspective.

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