Often I will sit with a client who is upset and I will stop the proverbial presses until they agree take deep breaths with me. They'll refuse, or say they can't, and much like my mother did with me when I fell into hysterics on the reg, I wait. I take deep breaths and wait for them to join me. Like magic, they're breathing. It's working. For the moment at least, panic has passed. All thanks to a simple deep breath. It's very effective. I highly suggest it.
I know from experience it's effectiveness because you see, when I stress, I don't breathe. Literally. It's as if I believe things are so fragile even the tiniest gust of wind from within me could make it all come crashing down. If I can just hold it in another second, I think, I will still be in control. In my scariest and most fragile moments I will often find myself physically struggling for air, trying desperately, pitifully to remain in control, unsure of the last time I allowed myself a breath.
Things may be fragile, but in my experience, holding one's breath isn't a very effective method of control. Because, you see, we require air. And I am so thankful, so very desperately grateful, for the people who remind me to breathe. Who give me permission to to quit holding it in, to breathe all over them, and can handle it when I do. Who will sit with me, patiently, presses proverbially stopped, until I agree to exhale.
Because sometimes? Sometimes it's all you can do. Take a deep breath. Then take another.