I haven’t been journaling. I haven’t been breathing.
Life took a left turn when I wasn’t looking.
Things went sideways. And they went sideways fast. Or so I thought.
Did this tight feeling in my chest really just sneak up on me?
I had been feeling really good. The best I’ve felt in years actually.
I had been really productive reading and writing; I felt really organized and centered; I had peace of mind. Wow, did that feel weird.
This summer I read The Art of Communicating from Thich Nhat Hanh, and it made gave me two puzzle pieces that seem super simple, but are so hard to maintain:
- deep listening
- loving speech
I was feeling in control of my anxiety and my emotions and felt really strong. I was demonstrating resilience for my daughters. A skill I so desperately want to cultivate in them.
I stopped writing in the mornings. I stopped journaling every night.
I stopped breathing first thing in the morning. And stopped setting a timer to remind myself to take 5 minutes to breath and stretch throughout the day. I let the routine of setting daily sprints slip. And I stopped defining the work that needed to be done during those sprints the night before.
Everything I had been so consistent with throughout the pandemic, all the work I had put into nurturing a routine, disappeared.
So when I woke up one morning, tight chest, already frustrated with the day and feeling behind, grumpy around my family, and my wife asked me to go write down five things I am grateful for before going any further, one thing was clear: this feeling did not creep up on me, it did not happen quickly, it was not something happening to me.
I let it happen. It happened over a period of time and I chose to ignore the signs.
But, that also meant I could change it.
And, it meant that I had the tools to fix it and knew they would work. I had the proof. I just needed to recommit.
So last night, I started journaling again.
Today, I woke up and took five minutes to breathe before getting out of bed.
Then, I kissed everyone good morning and wrote down five things I am grateful for today.
And then I sat down to write this.
I hope it helps. I hope it’s what you needed to read today. I hope this provides a jumpstart to your recovery, big or small.
Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow?
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Art of Communication
2 quick ways to make a routine of journaling & breathwork.
First, incorporate some easy breathwork into your daily routine.
While you brush your teeth, make your coffee, get dressed, drive to work, wherever you have a second to pause.
- Inhale for a count of 6 through the nose.
- Exhale for a count of 6 through the nose.
- Repeat whenever you think about it.
Easy routine hack: set a timer for 60 minutes. Every time it goes off, take 2 minutes to breathe through this cycle.
Break the loop of negative thoughts and anxiety by getting some of those 50,000 thoughts we have everyday out of your head.
You'll relieve a great deal of pressure.
It sounds simple, and it is. But it has a dramatic impact on the quality of your day.