Last week was a pretty awful week. Zooming in on me, I had a really difficult few days at work, struggled with homework and quizzes, was unable to balance my personal and professional life (but what’s new?), and found myself feeling run down and sick. I tried so hard to jump over hurdle after hurdle, and I barely cleared them. By the end of the week, I was curled up into a ball, hibernating at home, and watching my already overwhelming pile of responsibilities grow. Now, zooming out on what’s been going on nationally and globally, I think it’s safe to say that “awful” isn’t the right word to describe our current affairs. Awful feels like a terrible understatement, and that’s because there are no words that can fully capture recent horrific events. The mail bombs. The Kroger store killing. The synagogue shooting. Three hate crimes in the span of a few hours. If we were comparing my own challenges to those, there’s no contest. Now, that’s not to diminish my own experience for every feeling of frustration, disappointment, anger, and sadness felt so real to me in those moments, just like I’m sure that whatever you experienced this week felt just as real and difficult. This was an awful week for everyone, some more so than others. Most made it to the finish line, some by the skin of their teeth, and some sadly didn’t make it at all.
Whether we make it through tough times or it seems as though there’s no end in sight, sometimes all we can do is just breathe because it feels like too much to do anything else. Sometimes it feels like we just might break into a thousand tiny pieces because the world or our own lives weighs so heavy on our shoulders. Sometimes the burden is ours to carry, sometimes we inherited it, and sometimes it’s not our’s at all. Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re experiencing, whatever feelings that might surface, let this be your friendly reminder to pause, acknowledge your feelings, and practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing helps calm our bodies and minds when we’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, upset, and/or depressed. How do you do it? Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your belly expand fully. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural) for eight seconds. Repeat until you start to relax.
Life is a mix of ups and downs and everything in between, and every feeling we feel is valid. Some days or weeks might be more or less challenging and overwhelming than others, but regardless of what comes our way, let’s remember to breathe, breathe through the hurt, breathe through the pain, breathe through it all. And that’s okay if it’s the only thing you do today…just breathe.