Breathing . . . just keep breathing


Copyright 2014. Michele Haynes. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014. Michele Haynes. All rights reserved.

I created the graphic above last year when I was starting my first semester at school and feeling like I couldn’t do it, like my body was not going to cooperate. I was overwhelmed and struggling mentally and physically.

Okay . . . deep breaths.

I dove in headfirst this week. I became involved in two separate school groups (college newspaper and honor society). I’m not over my head yet, but I am most certainly feeling a little stressed. As always I cope by attempting to head off crises and stay ahead of deadlines.

I wake up early and work on anything that needs to be done until either my body or my brain puts on the brakes and shuts down for the day. Then that’s it for the day. There is nothing left, and I accept that. Oh, the freedom of truly knowing my limitations.

I have had people tell me that I need to push myself and just ignore the pain. For someone with chronic fatigue and pain from a conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or chronic Lyme disease there is no pushing through the pain (and it isn’t really the pain that is the problem, it is the physical and mental fatigue). If we push past a certain point we can end up out of commission for days or weeks with a severe flareup. I just can’t afford that kind of down time.

One thing that really hinders me is that I catch myself breathing so shallowly that I know, I KNOW, that my brain and muscles must be starving for oxygen. It is time to create two or three separate reminders on my phone to breathe deeply. Yep, I need a reminder to breathe (and I have done this before when I was my sickest). I just created two new alarms on my Droid phone using an Alarm Clock app I downloaded for free: one to just breathe in the morning and one to exercise and breathe in the afternoon, choosing soothing alarm tones.

Gentle exercise is also a great way to oxygenate the body without causing pain and stress on joints even if one is tired. I really do not enjoy deep breathing exercises, but I can make myself do it if it is just for a few seconds. Another trick is to sit up very straight while breathing deeply. I read that somehow this increases blood flow to the brain. Hey, I can use all of the blood flow to the brain that I can get.

Another trick I have learned is drinking a cup of hot green tea. Coffee is a stimulant and will initially wake me up and give me some energy, but green tea seems to bring a clarity of mind I never get with coffee. And coffee, after a certain point, seems to bring on brain fog. Green tea sweeps away the cobwebs and gives me a little more focus when I am struggling.

Finally, a couple of squares of dark chocolate (organic if available and you can afford it — I can’t and GMO-free at the least), give me a nice push-start when I have stalled. Eat it as dark as you can stand it because if it contains too much sugar it will have an opposite effect, bringing on more brain fog when the carbs wear off.

And don’t forget to breathe. Move, eat well, and breathe deeply.

Just keep breathing . . .


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