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Two Strategies for Slowing Things Down: Breathe In & Notice What You Value

How did that happen? I mean, really, it's December already!

 

Ever notice that the faster life goes, the harder it is to remember, much less appreciate, what is happening in our lives?! Seriously, take a quick minute and check in with yourself: What did you have for dinner last night? What did you do for pleasure last weekend? When was the last time you had a really great laugh?

 

If you can answer all of these without delay, then give yourself a *gold star and celebrate. Chances are you are moving through life with some degree of intention and focus.

 

If, like the vast majority of us, you find the synapses firing a bit more slowly, please don't take it as a sign that early Alzheimers is creeping up on you. Before you start getting all down on yourself for not remembering -- seriously, save the self-flagellation for something important -- take a few deep breaths. Then try again. Maybe you want to add something, like: Did you enjoy dinner last night? Who was with you? What did you talk about?

 

As you prepare to dive head first into the Holiday Season (which, personally, we kick off with a vengeance with Halloween at our house!), here are two strategies you might find helpful. First, remember to breathe. Truly, it is like a personal reset button. Second, try to consciously stay connected to your values throughout the day. In other words, teach yourself to slow your body despite the (I'm just guessing here) hectic pace of your life, and pay attention to what's important to you.

 

There's an art to breathing, or a science, depending on how you look at it. Either way, you can use the breath to relax your body. Automatic though it may be, there are actually four parts to a good, cleansing breath:

 

  • Inhale: Breathe in gently, through your nose if possible. Keep it comfortable. It does not have to be a huge breath, only a naturally full one.
  • Pause: Hold for a moment. Again, comfort matters. You should not feel like you're holding your breath, but that you are stopping for an instant, punctuating the inhale.
  • Exhale: Breathe out gently, through your nose if possible, slowing the breath down, taking your time with it, allowing it to escape naturally, releasing all tension in your shoulders, face and jaw. Ideally, the exhale is about twice as long as the inhale -- but don't try to get it 'right,' just relax into it.
  • Pause: Again, complete the breath. For a moment, bring the breath to a full stop before you start a new one.

 

Now that you know how to slow your breath down, let’s add values to the mix. When we try to remember something that has no significance attached to it, it often slips away. But when it has meaning – a person we care about, an issue that is compelling, an interest of ours – it is more likely to cement the event into our long-term memory.

 

So, in the coming weeks, as you go through the motions of your life, notice what you value in whatever you are doing. The laundry? Love having clean, fresh clothes! The dishes? Those brownies were of legend! Homework help? The value around education is hard to over-rate. You get the point.

 

When you remind yourself WHY you care about what you are doing, you will do it more deliberately, and life is likely to slow down a bit. Of course, when you apply this skill to experiences that you KNOW you value – likely family meals and special events – you end up creating life-long memories.

 

So, pay attention to your body, and pay attention to the present moment. It’s hard for things to fly by too fast when you are grounded in the “now.” 

 

 

Elaine Taylor-Klaus is a Life & Parenting Coach and the co-founder of www.ImpactADHD.com, an online coaching community for parents of kids with ADHD.  She writes for “Living Without” magazine, and is a regular columnist on www.ShareWIK.com and www.MySpecialNeedsNetwork.com. Elaine shares her business, Touchstone Coaching, with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus.

 

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Comment by Deb Caruso on December 17, 2011 at 10:53am
I just had a wonderful intern finish her training with me and my gift to her was a simple print on canvas with greenery and the word "BREATHE." I told her it's for her new office, to remind her in her new job how important it is to stop and breathe. Also, a WONDERFUL first grade teacher I work with practices deep breathing with her whole class several times a day. She uses the words "smell the rose, then blow out the candles". It's a great way to help the little ones grasp the abstract concept of breathing. Another OT friend of mine uses tissues with her kids with autism spectrum disorders. Since they don't understand the abstract/pretend, she has them place a tissue on different surfaces and try to blow it away either very slow, medium or fast. I work with some pretty smart cookies ;)
Comment by Lynn Lindahl on December 17, 2011 at 2:51am

It's good to have a reminder to breathe!  When I am calm and regulated, I can respond so much better to my daughter.  Thanks for the good reminder!

Comment by Elaine Taylor-Klaus on December 5, 2011 at 10:48pm

Oh, Deb, I like that! Celebration of successes is one of the most important things we can do to keep us motivated - as parents AND as teachers. We actually have a Forum on ImpactADHD.com called "Parent Success!" that is just for people to "brag" about what they are doing well!

Comment by Deb Caruso on December 5, 2011 at 9:05pm

One thing I have learned to do, especially after having my own child diagnosed with special needs, is to always write something good that happened that day in a journal. No matter how bad the day was, I take the time out to write down even the smallest of feats I accomplished, even if it was just picking up a take out dinner that the family liked! Finding the small things to be thankful for allows you to go to sleep thinking positively! My two cents...

Comment by Becky D. Smith on December 2, 2011 at 8:34pm
Thank you! I needed your wonderful advice and will pass it on to the parents of students in my class as well as my own daughter and her family.
Comment by Martianne Stanger on December 2, 2011 at 4:48pm

I SOOOO agree with this post and have been quite focused on principle/purpose-based living and breathing times myself of late.  It is making a difference in my home.  I wrote a bit about precious pausing at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2011/11/precious-pause-obse... and shared my parenting lesson about what NOT to do when you have a moment while the kids are engaged at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2011/11/camera-takes-bath-l... if anyone is interested in some examples.

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