By Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorDecember 3, 2015
image via bestpracticelife.wordpress.com
In the many years I’ve worked in the challenge course industry, the most important thing I learned is probably also the simplest. In moments of stress or fear, most people forget to breathe. On the high element courses people can start to hyperventilate or stop breathing altogether. In many team building exercises tensions can run high and the group will lose focus on the goal they are trying to accomplish.
I learned that it is in those moments that we most need to pause, take a breath, and re-center ourselves. We call it a team breath. Someone calls out “team breath” and everyone involved takes a deep breath, in and out. There is a shift in the moment, a shift inside each person as the stress dissipates; the fear ebbs away, even if just briefly. Everyone is equal and together.
I know it may sound quirky and weird to some, but I’ve never once seen it fail at bringing a group together. And it has never failed me personally in moments of high stress and anxiety. Breathing exercises are a vital part of managing my anxiety and helping me out of a panic attack or even preventing one from developing in the first place. Breathing is an automatic, involuntary action of the body, but we can control its pace and its depth. We can knowingly change our breathing to become calmer and more focused.
Breathing quite literally saves lives.
I think the past few months I’ve forgotten this. I’ve forgotten how simple it is.
I’ve forgotten the magic of an inhale, the peace in an exhale.
I’ve forgotten the true power of pausing, refocusing, and looking inward before reacting outward.
We are so quick to judge, so quick to assume, so quick to react. I know I am quick to overwhelm myself emotionally. Taking a breath allows the moment to land and thoughts to settle instead of letting the gut reaction take complete control.
Breathing is a vital part of life not just in that it keeps us alive, but it keeps us balanced and in control, especially during times that we might not have full control. It can align a group of people to overcome adversity in accomplishing a mutual goal. It helps in managing anxiety levels, even in the worst situations.
So if you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, afraid, or unable to control what’s going on, take a breath, slow down, find your center, and then move forward.
And remember, I’m with you.
Do you ever need to stop and just take a breath? How does it help you? Tell us below!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
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