Have those moments when you just want to burst into tears? Something’s happening that SHOULDN’T be happening? Gut getting tight? Anger, frustration building up?
OK… so imagine you’re with me. I’m in my car, slowly going along on a busy road. It’s a winter’s rush hour in London. It’s dark and I’m off to meet friends at an event and have to be there in an hour. As its rush hour I’m crawling but moving. Yae!
When suddenly the engine cuts out. Ok…maybe I slipped off the clutch. Brake on. Restart engine…but no. It won’t start…put hazards on….try again…battery’s fine…but fuel gauge is low – don’t say I’ve run out of petrol ?! I’ve never done that! I look up into the rear view mirror. Cars are piling up behind me. Some start to overtake on the inside bus lane and others on the outside…I try to start again…nothing. OK…
I’m feeling stressed!
So this is where I had to put into practice all I’ve been learning and talking about these past months…how to be mindful of my reactions and stop myself from feeling stressed! So I take a deep breath and notice the tension creating pain in my pelvis- not good! I’m still recovering from my bladder cancer treatment! Chill out FFS pelvis! Breath….
Plan of action: call RAC…hurrah for that option! Put on hold for 10 mins. Traffic moving past me….nobody stopping….finally get through and booked in….in a hour! Holy crap! I could feel the tightness in my gut and my pelvis increasing …
Breath Nicky! Breath! I look to the side and there’s a young man gestating to me….would I like a push off the road? Would I?! My hero!
After pushing me across the lane of traffic into a side road, off he goes on his way, my shining knight and cute too 😉
So I wait for the RAC to arrive. I close my eyes and take some slow, deep breaths, but I need a pee! And when I need a pee I MUST go. Again I could feel panic rising and my body tighten. It’s OK I tell myself, I’ll be fine…keep calm…breath!
So off I went looking for a dark garden…thank you to the owner of the overgrown bushes that sheltered me that evening! All pride goes when you need to pee, eh girls? 🙂
So jumping forward in time – I miss my friends, but the RAC finally arrive and give me some petrol – I felt really stupid but relieved to be off again…BUT
10 mins later … Are you still with me in the car?
Approaching Hammersmith Bridge, an old girl, so has width restriction posts at its entrance. The only way to cross it is through these. So I drive through…and stop. Dead. Right in between the posts. WTF? Again I tried to restart the engine, but with no luck.
Really? Universe? Are you testing me or what?! I’ve already been stuck in the middle of one road, mucked up my evening plans, peed in a stranger’s garden and now this?
I manage to squeeze myself out of the car – help! I shout – Meanwhile the bridge security has seen me …”I’ve broken down!’ I call…”yes love we can see that! “ Doh!
Thank God they’re big guys as they proceed to push me back off the bridge and back down another side street…
I called the RAC again…and waited… found a local pub and waited. This time they couldn’t solve the issue, so I waited further into the night for a tow truck to finally get me home. 6 hours to go 20 miles. A record! Even by London traffic standards 🙂
How to stop feeling stressed!
So why am I sharing this turbulent tale? Because I realised that mindful breathing works! By simply focusing on my breathing and being mindful, allowing myself to notice my mind and body’s reactions and areas of tension, I could keep calm, not feel pain in my pelvis and not lose the plot…anger was deflated…acceptance was easier..
Don’t just believe me…try it yourself. Why not try this mindful breathing practice at home?
- Set your phone alarm for 5 minutes. But a gentle one that you can have in the background for a few seconds – not one that makes you grab the phone immediately to switch it off.
- Find a relaxed, comfortable position on a chair or cushion.(In my case I just sat in my car!) Keep your back upright, but soft with your hands resting wherever they’re comfortable.
- Notice and soften your body. Let yourself soften and see if you can notice any sensations such as the connection with the floor or the chair. Try and let go any areas of tightness or tension. Breathe naturally.
- Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. Let it flow naturally. Now notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time.
- Return to the breath. Now as you breath you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things. This is normal! Just notice that your mind has wandered. As you catch it you could say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
- Stay here for five minutes. Just keep following your breath. Whenever you get lost in thought, return to your breath.
- When your alarm goes off, return your focus to your body, drawing your attention to it seated, in your room (or carJ). Let yourself release any more tension and then slowly open your eyes
Well done you! Even practicing this for 5 minutes a day will help you to automatically think of tuning into your breath as stressful situation arise…
Good luck and do let me know if you give this a go!
Photo thanks to: Pedro Figueras