Saturday, September 21, 2013

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you literally forget to breathe?

When things are getting crazy, taking a moment away to focus on your breath is essential. It may often seem like it’s the last thing you actually have time to do, but a mini-break for a few deep breaths can make a huge difference in your sense of well-being.

Here’s why:
  • A few deep breaths can relax your body and release tension. I don’t know about you, but my jaw clenches really tight when I’m stressed!
  • A few deep breaths can bring calm to your mind. It’s amazing how being away from your inbox for a few short minutes can help ease your worries.
  • A few deep breaths can give you clarity and new solutions. Changing your geography can do wonders for inspiring new ideas and de-cluttering the brain.
  • A few deep breaths can make you feel a sense of control. You suddenly become aware of the fact that you ARE indeed the one breathing in and out. You don’t have to rely on anyone else for this!
  • A few deep breaths can remind you that, at the end of the day, breath brings you life. You would literally die without it…
I write this today because I have been having a particularly high paced past couple of weeks. I, as I’m sure you can relate, have been bombarded with emails, phone calls and a list of things to do that seems to have two new additions each time I cross something off. I’ve been going non-stop, darting back and forth and I haven’t been taking a break. Why? Because there’s a little voice inside that tells me there’s too much to do!  It says: 
“How in the world could you take 10 minutes out to focus on your breathing”?

Well, last night I hit a wall. My ability to be focused was completely lost. I was responding to 10 different emails all at once. My thoughts were ping ponging through my mind (and outloud) and I was annoying myself (and my girlfriend, Kristin, too). Every creative bone in my body had magically disappeared. I just knew that I needed to give myself a time out to breathe, but I couldn’t be disciplined enough with myself to create the space to actually do it.

This is when I decided to pull out my journal and try a new “breathing” technique. I started by writing the words: Breathe in. When I wrote, I took a giant full inhale the entire time. Next I wrote the words: Breathe out. The second the pen hit the paper, I began an exhale that didn’t stop until the period was complete at the end. I repeated this exercise of writing the words, “Breathe in. Breathe out” until two entire journal pages were penned with the reminder.

I’ll admit, just like in my meditation practices, I went on a few super random tangents inside my own mind. I started to tell myself stories as the ink flowed, but each time I went off into never-never-land, I quickly brought my focus back to the paper and the pen.

It was rewarding to see the progress and to feel lost within the words. It was fulfilling to complete a line or page and to feel a refreshing sense of accomplishment from something so darn simple. It was an exercise that took just 10 minutes, but it left me feeling more relaxed and attentive than when I started.  

I highly recommend that the next time you’re drowning in the sea of ‘overwhelmed’, pull out a piece of paper and a pen and try this exercise. It may be the little escape your body and mind are craving. 


If you liked this, I suggest you head over to for some more inspiration!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A playground workout!

Re-motivating yourself after accomplishing a goal

I have always struggled with re-motivating myself after accomplishing a goal. I tend to immerse myself in the process of getting there and then the second it’s over I am left feeling the blues of not knowing what comes next. The little voice of “should” gets really loud inside my mind and eventually the guilt starts settling in. I beat myself up that I have fallen off course. I often think, “I should really go for a run”, but I just can’t seem to muster up the motivation to put on my shoes and get out the door. The reason is just not there.   

I remember being a gymnast and always feeling that sense of momentum and fire in the weeks and months leading up to a big competition. A sense of purpose and a plethora of reasons to push beyond my comfort zone were evident each morning I got up. Blinders were on and I had a force field of motivation surrounding me. Nothing feels better than being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually balanced and inline.   

But all of these good feelings would come to a roaring halt literally the day after the competition was done. Whether it was a World Championships, Olympic Games or even the Provincial Championships, I would go through a period of feeling emptiness and lost inside. I would ask myself “what comes next”?   

I experienced a particularly hard emotional fall after the 2008 Olympic Games. The pressure was so high and the focus was so intense. I had broken both of my legs just 11 months before and I had fully immersed myself in the process of coming back. There was no doubt in my mind that I had done everything I could to be the best I was capable of being, yet that complete sense of commitment and single minded focus made me feel so out of control when it was all over. Where was I to put my attention? What were my days to filled with? What would be my reason to get up in the morning? Just as I had experienced on many occasions before, when the competition was over, something felt eerily missing.   

I’ve come to realize that I am someone who loves the chase. I don’t like to bask in the glory of accomplishment; I would rather have something new to work towards. But there is always that awkward place in the middle where you switch gears from the “chasing” phase to the uncomfortable “not knowing what the next mountain peak looks like” phase. For someone like myself, it’s a very destructive place to be. In fact, having completed my first triathlon a little while back and not knowing exactly what comes next, I am stuck in this middle place as I write.   

A question that I ask myself every time I am immersed in this lonely and vulnerable spot is “why do I always end up here”? 

Can you relate?:)   

We know it’s coming. It ALWAYS comes. Why is it that we are surprised when the sad and unmotivated version of ourselves comes out to play?   

On numerous occasions, I have promised myself that this time will be different. But it NEVER is! 

So what does one do to get out of the funk?   

Here’s my plan:   
I am going to wake up tomorrow, eat breakfast and then put on my shoes and leash up my dogs. I am going to have a little voice inside my head tell me that I don’t really have a reason to run. It’s going to be loud and it’s going to tell me that I am without a goal. My race is over, remember?   

But then I am going to muster up the courage to tell the voice that my new goal will only come to me when I am running! Ah-hah! And then I am going to run. And run. And run. And run. And run. I am going to let my mind free fall with all the possibilities of what that “next” thing may be. I am not going to decide on what exactly it is tomorrow, but I am going to get excited about my options. And then I am going to write them down. I am going to reach out to my friends and see if anyone wants to take on a new challenge with me.   

Although I’m an “expert” blogger for, I am definitely a work in progress when it comes to re-motivating myself after accomplishing a goal. There are two things I do know for sure, though. Firstly, regardless of what my new goal will be, I will go through a series of low emotions after I’ve accomplished it. Secondly, the only way to start the process of figuring out what that next goal may be is to lace up and get my body moving. The new goal is not going to fall out of the sky, but the more active I am, the more I participate in my life and immerse myself in something I love (like running), the closer I will come to figuring it out.   

Perhaps the best way to re-motivate oneself after accomplishing a goal is to just shut up, lace up and get on with it. I’ll let you know how it works out.