Turning the calendar to December can feel like stepping into a maelstrom. Deep breathing is a simple way to stay grounded during this busy season.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and also the busiest. As we make our way into December, there are many joys to embrace, but tasks that go with each one. For example, receiving holiday cards is a pleasure, but sending them out takes some time and concentration. Being invited to a celebratory gathering is delightful, but outfits and hostess gifts come with the package.
Whenever I know I am going into a high-stress period, I remind myself to look at the quality, length and depth of my breathing. Sometimes, simply turning my attention toward my breath—without judgment, but with the simple goal of observing it as a way of checking in on my mood—gives me the cue I need to slow down, smile or take a break.
The writer J.R. Rim makes a poetic point that recently stood out as an “a-ha moment” for me about the powerful gift of a deep breath. He writes, “We breathe our deepest during sleep. When we are in the state of full rest. We are able to be.”
The breaths we take during a deep sleep are long and slow, restorative and resonant. We clearly can’t switch into sleep mode during the day, but I wonder if there is something about taking a deep breath that reminds us of our body’s instinctual ability to take the rest it needs.
So as I get ready to stand in shopping lines, prepare meals and visit with loved ones this month, this idea inspires me to regularly, consciously stop what I’m doing for just a moment, relax my shoulders and draw in and then release a deep and profound breath.
All I have to do during that breath is to be. I won’t need to be asleep to connect with that beautiful gift of a moment’s rest. I can simply let it be fuel and refreshment for the journey to wherever my day will bring me next.