What a strange concept; reminding myself to breathe. It’s quite remarkable how often we forget to consciously take in deep breaths.
I want to use this post as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life that can make a tremendous difference, like your breath. It’s something to really be grateful for.
Mindfulness and dealing with emotions
Breathing is an act that truly grounds you. Not only is it a necessary component to survive (thank you oxygen), but it’s also something that maintains your equilibrium.
This time of the year can be particularly stressful, especially if you’re in your final year at university. The projects, the workload, trying to apply for jobs, figuring out what’s going to happen next year; it can get a lot. I’ve also had to attend a number of virtual interviews over the past few weeks and if I’m being honest, they can be nerve-wrecking.
I almost always feel anxious or nervous before the call, and I can feel the way my body starts to react. I start taking shorter and shallower breaths, I start overthinking, I start sweating and I feel a tingly sensation in my tummy.
Despite that, I somehow make sure I remain confident and feel prepared. So how do I make sure I’m level-headed and calm? By slowing down my breathing.
This works so well whenever I’m faced with a daunting task or feeling overwhelmed. Just breathe.
Now is all you have
It’s come down to a very simple philosophy, understanding that we only have the present moment.
You can’t breathe yesterday, later or tomorrow. You can only breathe now.
You’re reminding yourself that life is temporary. Things comes and go, just like the breath. It’s ultimately about appreciating each and every breath; you don’t know when it will be your last.
What you’re also doing here is conditioning your brain to focus on one thing at a time. It’s easy to lose focus when we’re anxious or stressed, because our thoughts are occupied with the past or future.
Breathing helps us remind our brains that the stories we make up in our heads aren’t actually real. They’re mental constructions that we’ve created.
We just need to constantly remind ourselves that. When in doubt, be grateful and focus on your breath.
Oxygen to your brain
There are even more benefits to deep breathing! This is so obvious but very often missed. When you breathe more meaningfully and consciously, you allow more oxygen to enter the body.
This further improves the circulation of oxygen entering your bloodstream and into your brain, which helps you focus. Spending some time in nature (surrounded by trees) can also really help with your breathing. The air is fresh and full of life.
“Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not the okay, it’s not the end.”
This short post is a gentle mindfulness reminder. Life will inevitably bring pain, the suffering is up to you. Look at things from a perspective of growth and learning. Keep track of the way your body reacts.
Remind yourself to breathe more often. You will get through this. You will survive. It sometimes seems out of reach, the finish line seems so far away, but I believe in you. I think you should too.