breathe.

I thought the football game this past weekend would serve as a great break from studying for the exams I have this week, and although we did win 51-0, the game turned into inspiration for a blog post more so than a fun study break. To put a long story short, within the first 10 minutes of the game, immediately after we scored our first of many touchdowns that night, the unfortunate event of having alcohol spilled all over me took place (which, I should note, is hilarious to me now). The dude standing behind me in the bleachers was apparently pushed by someone behind him, which caused him to then fall forward into me. It’s fine, accidents happen, but when I say that his drink, comprised of coke mixed with Lord knows what kinds of alcohol, spilled all over me, I mean, alllll over me — my arms, my jacket, my shirt, my feet, and yes, my hair. So it’s 10 minutes into the game and I’m already sticky, now reeking of alcohol even though I was sober, and my hair is now wet, tangled, and everything in between. Uncomfortable for sure, but I wasn’t ready to leave, so, I sucked it up and continued cheering on our Dukes! About 20 minutes later, said dude standing behind me who had previously spilled his drink on me, fell down & fell forward (he had had a bit too much to drink that day). This resulted in his 6 foot self knocking my 5’3 self right off of the bleacher I was standing on and onto the ground into the people in front of me.

You know how sometimes, when you get angry or irritated, you have to tell yourself to breathe?

That was pretty much me at this point. (though now I have a neat bruise on my foot to show for this ordeal). I stood there after this kid had slammed into me twice now, and I told myself to breathe. In retrospect, doing so made me think about how that was the first time I had actually consciously breathed in and breathed out. It was the first time I had paused, and focused on only my breathing.

You see, obviously, we typically don’t have to think about our breathing, right? We don’t have to remind ourselves to breathe, because our bodies just do it. It’s innate. But have you ever thought about how incredibly helpful it can be to do that? To actually pause, let your mind rest and think about nothing other than the mere act of breathing in and breathing out…

I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed, something I’m great at doing is neglecting to allow myself time to pause and breathe. I continue to go, go, go, because when I know there is work to be done, exams to be studied for, applications to work on, essays to write, emails to send, I have trouble putting aside things on my to-do list in order to catch my breath. I am certain I am not the only person out there guilty of that. Typically what happens with that is I keep going, going, going until one small thing will stop me in my tracks and open my eyes to how desperately I need to stop for a hot minute and catch my breath. I’m about to enter week 5 of senior year and each day I have felt as though I have had time to do anything but breathe. I even wrote in my planner last week, “reminder: breathe” and I can think of only 1 instance where I actually attempted to be intentional about doing that. It’s hard. But when we do that, it puts things in perspective. It gives us time to step back and realize that the entire world is, in fact, not all on our shoulders. I encourage you to be intentional about doing that.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

That’s how I breathe when I run, and how I breathe when my anxiety is really bad. The physiological effects of anxiety are sometimes horrendous, and breathing is difficult in the moment. Just yesterday, for example, anxiety decided to disrupt my walk home from campus, so when I got home, I sat down on my couch, and I breathed. I focused solely on that — breathing in and breathing out. And it helps, cliche as it may sound.

You can only continue going, going, going, and you can only bottle it up, brush it under the rug for so long before something gives. Don’t let yourself be the thing that gives. Allow yourself time to pause. To breathe. To simply ‘be.’ I encourage/challenge you (and myself) to take time to breathe this week. No matter how busy you are, no matter how stressed you are from work or school or anything else. Take time to pause. Be intentional about breathing in and out and having no responsibility other than that — just pause, every hour, every few hours, every few minutes, and focus on your breathing. Have a mantra you repeat to yourself. Pray. Meditate. Ask God to be with you. Remind yourself God is holding you in the palm of his hand! Remember he is strong and is able to lighten your load if you would just simply ask! Personally I have been clinging to this verse below recently, & perhaps it’s one you can carry with you this week:

1 Corinthians 1:25:

“God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,

God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

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