• Rachel Paige

Remember to Breathe

It seems silly to forget about something as important as breathing and yet, it happens. I forget to breathe whenever my anxiety is high.

I don’t necessarily mean I’m holding my breath (sometimes I am). I mean that I forget to breathe properly. I hyperventilate or take staggered, shallow breaths that really don’t do any good.

When I was at school in middle school and high school, I was constantly aware of my breathing. Why? Because public school is not designed for kids with social anxiety, and almost everything in that building was an anxiety trigger. So when I was there, my breathing was almost never completely normal. I had to remind myself to take deeper or slower breaths.

Thankfully, my days in public school are over, but I still forget to breathe at times.

So what do I do about it? I leave myself notes. Literally. I do this quite a bit anyway, so this system works well for me.

If I have a busy week, I write “breathe” at the top of my planner, so every time I see how much I have to do, I have that reminder as well.

If I have to give a speech or presentation, I write “breathe” at the top of my notecards. Every time I look at them, I take a deep breath.

This is on the front of the shelf above my desk. I follow the instruction every time I look at it.

This is one of the *many* stickers on my laptop. I see it every time I open or close my laptop.

This is a pin I made for my backpack. Well, this picture is staged, the pin isn't glued together yet. But it'll be a nice reminder once I finish it!

Perhaps the best reminder I have is the ring in the cover photo. I got this ring in September. I mentioned a while ago that I fidget a lot when I’m anxious, and fiddling with my ring is one of the ways I do that.

Which is perfect, because then I have a reminder to breathe every time I touch that ring.

On high anxiety days (like my first day at a new job, first day of class, or the day of a presentation) I leave myself more notes. These are usually sticky notes on my desk, notebook, phone, or other item I’ll have with me. Sometimes it’s a piece of paper in my pocket that just says “breathe.” I did that on my first day at my current job. I wasn’t reading the paper, but I knew it was there, and every time I thought of it, I followed the instructions.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to breathe, following instructions usually isn’t.

If you have the same problem, try leaving yourself a note. Pick a place you know you’ll look at a time you’ll likely be stressed.

Already do this? I’d love to hear where you leave your reminders and what they look like for you!

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