Just One Thing To Do This Week: Breathe

By MARY BETH MAASSEN
Los Alamos

There are two Mary Beths.

Mary Beth One is calm and professional and well-organized (and all my friends reading this are thinking, “Really?!? I have never met her!”).

Mary Beth Two is easily overcome by angst and remarkably unproductive (“Ah!” my friends now say, “that’s the Mary Beth I know!”).

The only way Mary Beth Two can feel like she is moving forward is to watch just a very minutes of “Hoarders” or “My 600-Pound Life”. Only a few minutes or I am overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and sickness.

I am glad I am not the people on the show–and why-oh-why would they ever sign up to be on a show like that?!?—but I take some morbid comfort in knowing I am not THAT bad. And then I feel narrow-minded and mean-spirited for feeling that way. But that does motivate Mary Beth Two to get her act together and stay on track.

I know that when my home is in disarray, either because of renovation or inattention, my anxiety level bumps up a few notches. If I live like that for a while my life starts to fray at the edges, and then before too long it frays in the middle, and the next thing I know I am living in the midst of the fray, unable to move because of all the fraying. It is not a pretty sight.

Also, when I am stressed, even that low-level-long-term stress, it affects my breathing. I don’t take good solid, deep breaths. All the oxygen seems to stay at the top of my lungs, keeping my body functioning, but my brain isn’t getting enough to be happy.

My home has been in constant renovation for the last three years, and to say I need a break is an understatement.

I didn’t realize how frayed and anxiety-ridden I had become until the last few workers left my house and I was able to put everything (well, almost) back where it belonged. My house was quiet, and mine, for the first time in years.

There is more to managing my anxiety and stress than just keeping a well-organized home. Sleeping well is important. Eating reasonably healthy keeps me on track. Exercising enough also keeps me feeling good. I usually meditate at least twice a day. But I think the most important thing is to breathe.

Breathing full and deep can clear my mind and anxiety in seconds. Six deep breaths, breathing in deeply through the nose, and exhaling slowly out through the mouth, slows my heart rate, lowers my blood pressure, and instantly clears my mind. I highly recommend it.

If you would like some breathing guidance, there are several apps you can download to assist you. I am a big fan of guided mediations and anxiety-management apps.

With the end of this last renovation, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I am really enjoying my home. It feels great, and I am breathing deeply again. My brain is happier. I am able to welcome Mary Beth One back home … I hope she brought some drawer dividers!

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