Life can be stressful.
Sometimes, we just need to take a breath.
I’m reminded of the stress — and ways to counter its’ negative effects — by a classic tune by The Eagles:
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy/
Lighten up while you still can/
don’t even try to understand/
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy
So many things in our life can become the sound of our own wheels. Our jobs can demand so much of us. Our partners want time with us. Friends and family expect time with us. Perhaps most stressful are the expectations we often apply to ourselves — the self-generating pressure of being a fantastic friend, colleague, spouse, or family member can be a heavy burden that is hard to shake.
And that’s why it’s important for us to always be mindful of ways we can hit the pause button on the DVR of life when things get crazy. To be keenly aware of our surroundings. To be in tune with our own mind and body and what they are telling us. To take time for ourselves amid the chaos of every day life.
Sometimes, when life brings us moments, days, or even weeks of time during which stress seems to be stealing our happiness, our peace, our calm — and in some cases our oxygen (literally) — the best thing we can do is purposefully breathe. Escape the chaos — if only for a few moments — and do nothing but take a few deep breaths.
According to educators at the University of South Florida, oxygen plays a critical role in our circulatory and respiratory systems. Each breath we take provides us life-sustaining oxygen and enables our bodies to remove toxic biochemicals from our bloodstream. Irregular breathing that often results from stress, poor posture, or even chronic disease, can prevent us from using that oxygen or eliminating those harmful waste products. Science now demonstrates that chronic stress strips our body of vital nutrients and disrupts our endocrine and nervous systems. By performing deep breathing exercises, you can invoke your parasympathetic nervous system, counter the effects of stress, and achieve the kind of mind-body harmony that everyone wants and deserves.
D. Andrew Weil, renowned integrative medicine physician and advocate for holistic wellness, contends that “practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming, energizing, and can even help manage stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive orders.” Worried that you don’t have enough time? Concerned that it’ll be too difficult? Don’t be. The practice is meant to relieve stress, not cause it.
A good place to start might be Dr. Wei’s website at which he discusses a few simple exercises for beginners looking to give it a shot:
For those not looking to get all “holistic” — the lesson remains the same. Life gets crazy. Stressors exist all around us. It can be awfully hard to carve out 45 minutes a day for daily exercise or meditation. Escaping the office for a couple of minutes during the day to just sit, relax, and breathe may be just the thing you need to refocus and rejuvenate.
Great leaders know they must take time for themselves just like they do for others. They search for outlets through which their stress can be emptied out like running water from a kitchen faucet. They work hard — harder than most — and they serve others exponentially well. But they also know when to sit in the stillness of life and take a few breaths.
So the next time you wake up, on a Wednesday or any other day of the week for that matter, I encourage you to take a few moments for yourself.
If you’re quiet, you may just enjoy hearing the sound of your own wheels.
Comments, questions, or ideas? Let me know, I’m always appreciative of feedback. Feel free to visit my website at http://www.christophersell.com if you’d like to learn more about my professional work. You can also find me on LinkedIn or follow me @WMUBronco_Chris – I’d love to connect.