We’ve all heard the old adage, “when it rains it pours”. That is how I felt on the day that I was hired to give a speech on handling stress to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston on the same day that I was leaving for a retreat with my business mastermind taking place in Connecticut.
I was thrilled to be giving the speech and excited to meet my business besties and coach in person. But all of this happening on the same day meant I didn’t land in CT until after midnight. By the time I rented a car and got to my hotel it was 1 am, pitch dark, and freezing.
I was staying at more of a motel than a hotel for the night, so the rooms were spread out and the entrances to the rooms were all outside. Of course the one I got was as far away from the lobby as possible, like a few buildings farther, and I was told there was nothing closer available.
I have been really trying to listen to my intuition more. So when a little voice in my head told me to ask at the front desk if someone could walk me to my room I listened. Pitch darkness + middle of the night + off the highway didn’t really feel like a winning combination for safety.
I was told by the desk clerk, “sorry, no.”
Even though inside I wanted to scream, “If they find me dead in the parking lot you are going to feel really, really bad tomorrow!” I just smiled and walked to my room.
I began to panic because usually when I hear that tiny voice in my head and I don’t listen, something usually goes wrong. So I wondered if there really was someone waiting in the bushes to attack me. My heart was about to bust through my chest as I imagined the worst about to happen to me.
It took three tries up and down staircases of poorly numbered buildings with my suitcase to finally find my room. As I bolted the door I said a quick prayer of gratitude that I made it!
I only had five hours to sleep because I had to leave around 6:00 am to drive to the retreat center. However my heart was beating out of my chest, and sleep felt very far away.
Turning to my breath
I needed to calm down as quickly as possible, so I turned to my breath. As I began forcing myself to take longer, slower, deeper breaths my body and my mind calmed, and I was able to fall asleep.
I beg of you… If you are ever worked up into a state of internal turmoil, whether it be because your kids are driving you nuts, someone cut you off on the freeway, or sleep feels far, far alway… Turn to your breath. It will not fail you.
It takes three nice, long, deep breaths to begin to calm your nervous system. Start there and keep going until you feel calmer and more balanced. Really feel your ribcage expand and contract.
You can also try belly breathing which is extremely calming. Put your hand on your lower belly and breathe so you can feel your hand rise. Pretend you are blowing up a balloon in your belly on the inhale, and letting all the air out of the balloon on the exhale.
Had I not turned to and focused on my breath, my wish for sleep would have died a slow, excruciating death. My breath literally saved me that night!
Do you have a favorite way to reclaim your calm? Share in the comments!