When ‘just breathe’ doesn’t cut it

‘Just Breathe…’


an inhale and an exhale, take this moment to feel that breath and connect with the present moment that is…

You know those days or moments when ‘just breathe’ doesn’t do anything, it actually doesn’t cut it, you feel somewhat worse, more irritable and the situation feels at a complete loss.  Your whole sense of being detaches from where you really want to be, logically you know you are to ride it and notice the process, but something else is saying..run, hide, escape, give up!

Guess what, you are not alone. Those moments are real, and it could be a number of reasons why, you know yourself better than anyone but if you don’t recognise what it is how do you make it better?

It could be learning a lesson, adapting to change, resistance to something or it could be that a tank is empty and it needs to be filled….Have you acknowledged those times when you’re empty, you have given to everyone else around you, and left nothing for yourself.  That irritability, the lesson, resistance, tiredness wanting to run and hide is your mind and body saying ‘Hey, you are empty, you need to stop, reset and refuel’

Lately, I was there, I wrote a facebook post about it, admitting and recognising that I was tired, emotionally – not physically.  My head was full but unclear. I wanted to do things but then would stare at the screen unable to think about what to write.  My to do list was whirling around in my head and I knew that a lot of it wasn’t going to happen, that didn’t sit well with me.  I had been cruising nicely and ticking things off, life was content, pleasant and also challenging to maintain the smooth running of family! So over time by filling everyone else up I had neglected myself.

I needed to listen to my sudden sense of emotional tiredness, and stop, reset, refuelAwareness was the key for me, I listened to my mind and body and quickly decided to make appropriate shifts that enabled me to start filling my own emotional tank.  Yes, one of my initial tools was ‘just breathe’, but at that stage it didn’t cut it, it didn’t feel good, there was discomfort in telling myself to ‘just breathe’.  At this point, I should mention, I am a mindfulness facilitator – so the breath is pretty important in what I teach others, and to be in a place where what I pass on to others wasn’t working for me, it got me thinking about what those words can do or mean in any given moment.

So, what did I do to ease the emotional fatigue and get out of the run, hide, escape, give up mode. I stopped and took that breath, noticed the discomfort of it and realised that I needed to listen to my body. There were 6 things that I did to build on the stop, reset, refuel…..

  1. Positive regard – a ‘yay me’, high 5, pat on the back.  Awareness, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant is a great thing, so praise yourself for that.
  2. Protect the emotion – knowing that the tank is empty or nearly empty, you need to protect what’s left in a loving way. Look at your day and keep it as ’emotionally’ free as possible. Try not to get into deep and meaningfuls, or make that phone call that could exert the energy you don’t have.
  3. Try something new or different that promotes self-care. Something that helps with the reset and offers sense of inner calm.  It could be music, reading, colouring, sitting and looking out, cooking – anything that doesn’t exert too much emotional energy and takes you away from the ‘tired’ feeling.
  4. Sense of achievement – You still want to feel as though you have achieved something in a day, no matter how mundane that could be (for me it was loads of washing, I know how to do it, it got me moving and I didn’t use my ’emotional energy’, I still achieved and got something done that was also helping the family).
  5. Home sanctuary – a massage, day spa treatment may not be possible (it wasn’t for me) so create your own sanctuary at home for a period of time.  Soothing, relaxing music in the background or no background sounds at all, let the natural sounds be what you tune in and out of.
  6. Connect – this can be the one that makes the difference. Say yes to a friend who is suggesting a catch up. You don’t have to talk about your emotional drain. (I was fortunate that a before school pick up coffee was planned).

I am not going to make it sound as though by doing those things my emotional tank was filled, it wasn’t, and there were kids coming home from school, who were going to need my attention and therefore me emotionally. I had topped up my tank and being aware of that, was gentle on myself and how I interacted with my children when they got home.

The lesson for me was ‘just breathe’ didn’t cut it at first, but by recognising that made me aware that I was being told to stop (which meant breathe), reset (take action and start refilling the tank), re-fuel (know what works to refuel the tank).  Going through the 6 steps enabled me to get back to a point where my to do list was no longer whirling around in my head, it was a list that was doable, achievable and I didn’t want to run, hide, escape or give up.

I wanted to just be, and as a preventative measure since that day… I am playing more soothing music and checking in on my ’emotional tank’ more regularly to make sure it doesn’t get to empty again.

Look after yourself and remember that as humans, we all have times of tired – be aware and stop, reset and refuel.

Yours mindfully