When All You Can Do Is Breathe, Just Breathe


This morning I woke up anxious and moody. I wanted to stay in bed, lie in the dark, bury my face in my pillow, and pull the sheets up over my eyes, but my daughter needed me to get up, and so I flung my feet onto the wooden floor.

I putzed around the kitchen — fixing her breakfast, brewing coffee, and finding the “right cup” for her milk — but I was still off. I wanted to scream and cry.

So I turned on Dora and headed upstairs.

I closed my eyes, inhaled, and started to count.

Ten.

Nine.

Eight.

I let my heartbeat dictate my pace. I held onto my breath until the space beneath my ribs burned. Until my lungs were on fire. And then I exhaled.

With strength and veracity, I let it all go.

Seven.

I inhaled again.

Six.

Five.

But by five, my thoughts were racing. By five, my mind was wandering and, distracted and frustrated, I exhaled.

l considered giving up and walking away.

The truth was I already had too many things on my plate. I didn’t have time for stillness and meditation and deep breathing. But instead of standing, I stayed with it. Instead of running away, I stayed in the moment and I took another breath.

Instead of leaving, I inhaled.

Four. My muscles began relaxing.

Three. Things were settling.

Two. My heart was slowing.

One. Time to exhale. Time to take another breath.

Make no mistake: I wasn’t better. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I was still frustrated and on the verge of tears, but the point isn’t whether or not this moment fixed me — whether counting to 10 saved me or my sanity — it was that I chose to take this moment, and these breaths, at all.

Because sometimes we get so caught up in tasks and to-do lists, the needs of others, and life that we lose sight of what is really important, and what really matters. Sometimes we lose sight of our needs and ourselves, but one minute, or one moment, can help refocus our attention.

One breath might help change the course of your day.

So when you feel angry and annoyed. When you feel your fuse is short, and the fire is close, breathe.

When you feel downtrodden and desperate, when you feel invisible and insignificant, breathe.

Stop and breathe.

And when you feel worthless, ugly, hurt, bad, sad, or disrespected. When you hate yourself. Remember to pause, count to 10, and breathe.

Breathe.

Because we are worth 10 seconds, and 10 moments. We are worth 10 breaths, and sometimes what we need to do is breathe.

Sometimes all we can do is breathe.

For more mental health stories, visit Sunshine Spoils Milk or follow Kimberly Zapata on Facebook.

A version of this post originally appeared on Sunshine Spoils Milk.

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