I am an adrenaline junkie. For as long as I can remember. I can remember 7th grade, and thriving on multiple creative activities going on at one time, working in my parents restaurant, schoolwork, and practicing two instruments. I was in heaven.
The trouble is, because I am wired for projects, inspiration, work and push, presentation/culmination,
crash rest, it is very easy for me to either skip the rest part until I crash, or even in a season of rest, feel like I should be pushing. It’s easy to miss the thrill of the adrenaline.
Have you ever found yourself rushing, and suddenly wondered: why am I hurrying?
Well, right now, I am in a busy life-season with homeschooling, private music teaching, and just wifing/homemaking/mothering. But I don’t want to live on adrenaline. I am not in a sprint. This is a marathon. And I am going to need to pace myself.
Even with the addition of Christmas and birthdays, I need to find my stillness, and prevent Major Project Mode for kicking in, or I will burnout before the season is over. So, I am returning to breathing.
During my climb out of the pit, I learned a lot about physiology. (I am a sort of nerd… Ok I am an actual nerd. I tend to read a lot about whatever is going on in my life). And while my faith is at the core of where my peace comes from, I also know the power of taking control of what is going on with our biochemistry, with some simple tools. It would be unfortunate to say “just pray and trust God” when facing health issues, when He has given us the ability the understand our bodies, and partner with Him in the care of ourselves. (Oops! sorry, rabbit trail. 🙂 )
Anyway, there are a few types of breathing that I have done in helping to create calm in the mind/body. The first one I learned is simply breathing in for a slow count of two, and then out for four. Sometimes this works well for me, but if I am feeling really flurried/stressed, sometimes that one is hard for me. I don’t know… the exhaling takes a “long time” to my hurried mind, and it’s hard for me to relax into it.
The most affective breathing technique for me when I am super stressed is called square breathing. You breathe in for a normal count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and hold for 4 (or I continue slightly exhaling for the last 4). (Picture tracing one side of a square for each step). This makes the quickest difference for me in shifting my chemistry. I am sure holding the breath is a powerful chemistry shifter, but also when my mind is racing, shifting “steps” every 4 counts is easier for me to do.
My other favorite technique I learned on Lisa Byrne’s blog, WellGroundedLife.com. She shares ‘alternate nostril breathing’ in a video. It is similar to square breathing, but you are alternating sides of the nostril for the breaths. I had not heard of this one before, but found it very relaxing and easy to do. You don’t have to do it for 3-4 minutes to feel the effects.
In this flurried season, I am also working on being disciplined in having a daily quiet time for prayer/meditation etc. But returning to my breathing techniques allows me to make a quick shift in my mind/mood no matter where I am, or what my hands are doing, or even where my mind is at. And makes it easier for me to settle in for a time of prayer or reading, and shift my thoughts.
Here’s to staying calm despite the flurry of the holiday season!