Life happens; and sometimes it happens all at once with bells, knobs, whistles and pneumatic drills. Everyone is demanding something from you; even the dog wants walks, food, playtime and cuddles. You ricochet through the days reacting to whatever crisis is uppermost in the moment, never feeling in control or that you get a minute to just sit and breathe and be. Chest tight, temper flaring, relationships fraught, feeling like the wheels are coming off and you're failing at everything.
No, honestly, just breathe: in slowly and deeply for a count of 5, hold it for a count of 5, and out again for a count of 5.
Repeat 5 times.
It takes less than 5 minutes (I like the number 5).
You're letting your body know that there is nothing to worry about in this moment (I'll come back to this). In scientific terms you're interrupting the 'fight or flight' sympathetic nervous system response to a stressful situation: you know those feelings of raised blood pressure, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, shoulders and stomach, of being in imminent danger of being eaten by a lion or found out by your boss?
You're gently reminding your body to relax by taking in lots of oxygen and letting yourself relax as you breathe out. There is a physical sense of release as your shoulders drop and your chest deflates. For a short period of time, you're giving your full attention to you and how you feel. It's amazing the perspective that can bring.
And about that being in the moment thing. When you feel really anxious about something that hasn't happened yet (like an interview, or a presentation, giving some bad news or asking for something), ask yourself "what is happening right now? right this very second? I'm just sitting here, breathing in and out, eating my breakfast / lunch (whatever it is that you're doing)". Narrow your focus right in to the actions you are taking right now - I'm standing up, I'm putting one foot in front of the other, I'm approaching the door of the interview room, I'm opening the door...
Your mind loves to create disaster movies about things that haven't happened yet and you can get all caught up in a future that is very unlikely to be realised. Stick to the present and lower those shoulders by a couple of inches.