On the 6th Day of Self-Care Katie gave to me . . .
Six Breathing Techniques!
The first time I remember hyperventilating was in high school. I woke up late and didn't have time to finish editing a big essay my Senior year. The result, which I knew all-too-well, was getting my first B and knocking myself out for valedictorian. Yes, I was that kid: the perpetual worrier, perfectionist, and all the other stereotypes you can imagine that go with that type-A personality. When my teacher told me that I made a B she also gently handed me a literal permission slip saying "permission not to be valedictorian." For my 17-year-old, people-pleasing self, that permission slip was life-changing and a huge comfort. That permission slip landed a place on my bulletin board and is still in a scrapbook I made of my Senior year.
To some, that story may seem silly. For me, that story was my teacher telling me, "it's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to take a breather. Your value doesn't come from being valedictorian."
Do you ever find yourself like my 17-year-old self, enslaved to your own expectations and perfectionism, unwilling to take a break? If so, you're not alone. I imagine you're in the majority in the U.S., especially in December. When I'm stressed or overwhelmed, I find that my perfectionism only gets worse and my ability to take a breather lessens. Just a few weeks ago I caught myself back in the exact same patterns I was over a decade ago.
So why not actually take a breather this holiday? Deep breathing isn't just some goofy practice that your mom told you to do as a distraction. Deep breathing actually engages two different nervous systems, balancing them to reduce the biological impact of anxiety. (Want to know more? Check out this article for more info: The Science of Slow Deep Breathing.)
All deep breathing includes deep inhaling and deep exhaling. Most experts recommend counting for a few seconds as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Keeping this in mind, here are 6 techniques for your 6th day of self-care:
Disclaimer: Some deep breathing exercises can incorporate Eastern religions. Similarly, Apps and online tools may use Eastern rituals. To avoid opening your mind to these religions, be cautious about guided imagery that is secular or produced by someone that is not a Christian.