All too often I hear in coaching session, “I am so busy, I don’t even have time to breathe!”
This sets off all the alarms for me. I think, “Wow, how are you even living without time to breathe?” Our breath is proof of life and if you don’t have time to breathe, well perhaps you aren’t really living! It’s really time to slow down folks.
Our society wants us to be busy, even if it’s not productive. In a consumerist society being busy is seen as a mark of success. Yet, this can be a sign of spinning our wheels. Busy isn’t always fruitful. Without time to breathe, and space to breathe deeply, we can be so frantic that we don’t achieve our goals and can’t see the way forward. We can lose sleep and dig ourselves deeper into the hole of procrastination. We need to be able to focus our work and our intentions.
A good coach will help you slow down enough to focus your thoughts and help you navigate the road ahead. Your coach will help you refocus on the issues at hand and help you be accountable even when there is a lot going on.
Coaching can help you make the difference between spinning your wheels and truly achieving your goals. When you engage an executive coach they can help you see how slowing down and breathing might just be one of the keys to your success. It’s part of self-care. Bouncing from project to project can negate the ability to go deep and do the transformational work that leads to our growth as individuals and also for the organizations we serve.
Taking the time to breathe deeply helps focus our thoughts and our energy.
In some yoga and meditation practices, deep breathing can help reduce our anxieties and even help us relax enough to sleep. There are some studies that show deep breathing and breath control can benefit our autonomic and central nervous systems.[i]
So when we say take time to breathe it’s not just some platitude, it is a technique to help us focus and move to the next level in our performance and strengthen our psychological health.
One technique you might try is called 4-7-8 breathing, based on a yoga practice called pranayama.
Before starting the breathing pattern, adopt a comfortable sitting position and place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:
- emptying the lungs of air
- breathing in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
- holding the breath for a count of 7 seconds
- exhaling forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips, and making a “whoosh” sound for 8 seconds
- repeating the cycle up to 4 times
The total number of seconds that the pattern lasts is less important than keeping the ratio. If you can’t hold your breath for 7 seconds, try a shorter pattern instead, such as:
You might feel lightheaded after doing this for the first few times. It is advisable to try this technique when sitting or lying down to prevent dizziness or falls.
- breathing in through the nose for 2 seconds
- holding the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds
- exhaling through the mouth for 4 seconds
As long you maintains the correct ratio, you may notice benefits after several days or weeks of doing 4-7-8 breathing consistently one to two times a day.
When you are in a high powered position, and managing many tasks at once, it is critical to remember to breathe and breathe deeply to ensure your focus, to lower your anxiety, and to give you the boost you need to live your life rather than let your work overwhelm and control you! If you have thought about having someone in your corner to help you navigate the intensity of your work life, consider working with me. I’ll help you breathe deeper and go farther to make your efforts more meaningful and transformative