Okay, so I know I only planned on writing twice a week, but Monday’s didn’t really count, being an introduction and all. And besides, there’s a little something that’s been niggling at the back of my mind, and I’d like to get some perspective on it.

So I went away for the weekend, on a wonderfully restful, last-minute-jaunt up the West Coast (to see the flowers, which I’ve never seen before and which totally blew me away). We spent the weekend napping and reading and eating (a lot), walking in nature, revelling in the stillness of a half-forgotten farm cottage and enjoying the 1940s big-band tunes that crackled out of the ancient radio as we ate our supper on old-fashioned crockery in the so-old-it’s-vintage kitchen. You get the picture.

What I came away with, though, was an overwhelming sense that in everyday life I’m forgetting to breathe. And so are all the people around me. We’re so busy meeting deadlines and answering emails and preparing our wheat-free, sugar-free, flavour-free meals and rushing to get to the next stage of our lives that we’ve lost the gentle art of breathing.

And not just in a figurative way! I sometimes have to remind myself to stop, and breathe, in and out, in and out.

I returned home on Sunday evening totally peaceful and serene. And then hit work on Monday morning and remembered the mountain of work I had to do, and let it crush me, breath by peaceful breath, till I was back to short breathing, fast talking and rapid thinking. But you have to wonder, don’t you (well, I do), if it’s possible to keep an air of Zen in these foolish open-plan offices. Sure, it encourages communication and saves all that tiresome opening and closing of doors, but it also lets other people’s stress leach through the air to poison the little happy bubble I had created from hanging out in the flowers.

And then there’s the fluorescent light (exhausting for the eyes).

And the stale air (no windows near my desk).

And don’t get me started on the hormonal content in the oxygen when you work in an office of over-40 women!

So it gets me wondering if I should be taking deep breaths of this air, or if it will only make the condition worse.

What’s the answer? I’m not quite sure. But I’ve decided on a new tactic: I call it Not Getting Caught Up.

Because at heart the whole point behind this breathing thing (apart from keeping my body going) is to stop and take stock. To take a step back from the Stress with a capital S and say: “Hey. I love this job, I love this life, maybe I should spend a moment noticing that, instead of feeling swamped.”

I’ll give it a go and let you know how it works out.



Bridget McNulty

Bridget McNulty is a writer, content strategist and creative director. She is the editor of Sweet Life diabetes lifestyle magazine (www.sweetlifemag.co.za) and...

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