Here’s a funny memory from High School that has come back to me in a deeper way as an adult.
I was watching a soccer game and a friend named Andy Dodson was telling me about how his dad had been teaching him how to lift weights properly. Andy was getting in shape and wanted to tell me about it. I was sort of half-listening, but what he said next has stuck with me for two decades somehow.
“My dad says that the hardest part is learning how to keep breathing as you are pumping the weights.”
The hardest part is breathing?
That idea has come back to me in different situations over the years that followed. And my own observations have borne out the truth of Andy’s dad.
Recently, while doing Pilates sit-ups (yes, Pilates is my secret to avoiding pud-ness), I realized that I was basically holding my breath. No wonder it’s so hard!
So, I’ve trained myself to breathe at a particular point in each stroke and it’s so much easier.
And, of course, I always think of Andy.
But to the point…
As I’ve moved into mid-life and my work days get longer and more intense, I’ve found that stress build-up throughout the day has become a real problem. My chest seems to get tight and I have difficulty relaxing.
(Incidentally, I’ve noticed that doctors seem to have this problem. If you have an appointment late in the day, they can be really tense and “worked up.” I suspect the same cause.)
I had been pondering how to handle it, when I realized that I’m not really breathing as I work. My breathing tends to be shallow, then I take a big, deep breath to catch up, but it tends to be rather hurried.
So, I’m trying to integrate breathing into my work, in much the same way that it would be integrated into exercise.
It’s working well so far and seems to be solving the problem. Feel free to tag me at some point in the future if you’re wondering about the long-term picture.