Take a breather, come back home

Woman sitting relaxing next to open window with plants in view.

Let’s just say it – there are a lot of people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. (Hello, toilet paper hoarders!) While there are very real reasons for concern about COVID-19 and our behavior needs to change, that doesn’t mean we need to lose our heads. Actually, in times of crisis, we need to keep our heads on our shoulders more than ever. Our friends and family need us, our colleagues need us, and our community needs us. That’s why we need to attend to our own resilience.

When I’m teaching the Power of Self Esteem or the Power of Purpose, one of the things we look at is the yin and yang of being and doing. It’s quite easy in this life to get swept away in the doing. We get busy with our to-do lists, tasks, and what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. We often fail to notice how we are being in the world. For example, we don’t see how being stressed out is causing us to be impatient with others.

I know I’ve been feeling the stress lately. I’ve been reading the articles on novel coronavirus, so I can understand the risks and make appropriate decisions both in my professional and personal life. I noticed my energy was outwardly focused and was starting to feel strained. Tension headaches anyone?

Take a breather

Noticing that stress was a good reminder for me to stop and take three conscious breaths. This is a powerful technique that can help you reset your day in 25 seconds – see the video we posted on Facebook. Bringing breath deep into your body will calm your whole system. I invite you to do it several times a day. You can even choose a trigger to help you remember, such as when you get into the car or before you begin to eat. When you take a breather, it will help you to focus on how you are being in that moment. Are you showing up as best you can – or has the overwhelm gotten the better of you?


Another good thing to do after you take a breather is to reassure yourself. In February’s blog, “Eating Fear For Breakfast,” I shared some ideas for dealing with the swirl of thoughts that could be clouding your vision. So feel free to have a look at that. For now, though, remember that you can coach yourself through difficult times. Be gentle with yourself and tell yourself truthful things that will help you through. Some people call these affirmations or mantras. They can take different forms. Here are a few ideas – you can pick whatever phrases work for you:

  • It is as it is
  • I am enough 
  • Progress, not perfection
  • I can say no
  • I can ask for help
  • Not my circus, not my monkey
  • Take three conscious breaths
  • Take a breather, come back home

Self care

Lately, I’ve been using the last two phrases frequently. What do I mean by “come back home”? I mean the place that is your centered self when you have a sense of equilibrium. The opposite would be the frenetic energy that is out there. Sometimes we get caught up in that energy, and then it is time to come back to ourselves. Remember who you are, what your values are, and what your purpose is.

This is like the safety instruction you get when you fly on an airplane – to put on your own mask first before you try to help another. Taking some time for self care right now is critical in bolstering your own resilience. What would help you be more grounded right now? Is it an extra walk with the dog? Playing an instrument? Taking a long, hot bath?

The ideas that I’m sharing here are true in less difficult times, but now that we are faced with uncertainties unlike any we have seen, they are even more important. When you maintain your sense of well being, you will help yourself and it will ripple out to others around you. Notice your stress and how you are being in the world. Then, take a breather and come back home.


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